Study: 1 in 3 elderly patients die after intubation

One-third of patients over age 65 die in hospitals after they are put on ventilators, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

For the study, researchers analyzed 35,000 emergency room intubations in adults over 65, gathered from 262 hospitals between 2008 and 2015. They found 33 percent of patients died in the hospital after mechanical ventilation. Only 25 percent of intubated patients were discharged to their homes, and 63 percent were sent to other healthcare facilities, such as nursing homes.

"I went into emergency medicine thinking I'd be saving lives. I used to be very satisfied putting patients on a ventilator," lead author Kei Ouchi, MD, MPH, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told The New York Times. However, he realized some patients may not prefer the quality of life associated with a ventilator.

"They sometimes have values and preferences beyond just prolonging their lives," he said. "I was never trained to talk to patients or their families about what this means."

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