Characteristics of Hospice Programs with Problematic Live Discharges

Joan M. Teno, Jason Bowman, Michael Plotzke, Pedro L. Gozalo, Thomas Christian, Susan C. Miller, Cindy Williams, Vincent Mor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Context Little is known about how hospice live discharges vary by hospice providers' tax status and chain affiliation. Objectives To characterize hospices with high rates of problematic patterns of live discharges. Methods Three hospice-level patterns of live discharges were defined as problematic when the facility rate was at the 90th percentile or higher. A hospice with a high rate of patients discharged, hospitalized, and readmitted to hospice was considered to have a problematic live discharge pattern, which we have referred to as burdensome transition. The two other problematic live discharge patterns examined were live discharge in the first seven days of a hospice stay and live discharge after 180 days in hospice. A multivariate logistic model examined variation in the hospice-level rate of each discharge pattern by the hospice's chain affiliation and profit status. This model also adjusted for facility rates of medical diagnoses, nonwhite patients, average age, and the state in which the hospice program is located. Results In 2010, 3028 hospice programs had 996,208 discharges, with 18.0% being alive. Each proposed problematic pattern of live discharge varied by chain affiliation. For-profit providers without a chain affiliation had a higher rate of burdensome transitions than did for-profit providers in national chains (18.2% vs. 12.1%, P < 0.001), whereas not-for-profit providers had the lowest rate of burdensome transitions (1.4%). About one in three (33.8%) for-profit providers exhibited one or more of these discharge patterns compared with 9.0% of not-for-profit providers. Conclusion Problematic patterns of live discharges are higher among for-profit providers, especially those not affiliated with a hospice chain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)548-552
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Hospices
  • for-profit
  • hospice chain affiliation
  • live discharges
  • not-for-profit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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