The Korea Herald


‘Most terminal patients choose treatment over hospice care’

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Dec. 18, 2014 - 21:14

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Nearly all patients suffering from late-stage cancer actively fight the disease rather than choose hospice care, a report by a state-run institute showed Thursday.

Some 97.4 percent of medical procedures on late-stage cancer patients are active treatment such as chemotherapy, surgery and undergoing a battery of tests, while only 2.6 percent are focused on hospice or palliative care aimed at managing the patients’ pain, according to researchers at government-affiliated Health Insurance Policy Research Institute.

The researchers studied cases of terminal patients at 44 local general hospitals from 2009 to 2013.

The report was another indicator that preparing for death under hospice care is still a relatively new concept in Korea. In a recent survey by Ulsan University Hospital, fewer than 70 percent of the respondents were familiar with the concept.

Active treatment can also be a financial burden, researchers found. According to the report, the “active treatment” group spent an average of 14 million won ($12,704) per month during their first month at the hospital, while patients who chose hospice care spent 5.3 million won.

They found that the money spent on active treatment increased rapidly as patients extended their hospital stays, but the increase was much less steep for patients getting hospice care.

As of 2013, 74 percent of patients suffering from severe illnesses like late-stage cancer died at a medical facility. The percentage of people dying at home ― currently about 36 percent ― is decreasing each year, the report said.

By Yun Min-sik (