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Oct 10, 2019

What happens in Long Term Acute Care Hospitals, or LTACs (pronounced L-tacs)? I've never been in one. I've sent patients to them - usually patients with long ICU stays, chronically critically ill, with a gastric feeding tube and a trach for ventilator support. For those patients, the goals (usually as articulated by the family) are based on a hope for recovery of function and a return home. And yet we learn some surprising things from Anil Makam, Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCSF. In his JAGS study of about 14,000 patients admitted to LTACs, the average patient spent two thirds of his or her remaining life in an institutional settings (including hospitals, LTACs and skilled nursing facilities). One third died in an LTAC, never returning home. So you would think with this population of older people with serious illness and a shorter prognosis than many cancers, we would have robust geriatrics and palliative care in LTACs? Right? Wrong. 3% were seen by a geriatrician during their LTAC stay, and 1% by a palliative care clinician. Ouch. Plenty of room for more research and improvement. Read or listen for more! See also this nice write up by Paula Span in the New York Times, and this prior study on geographic variation in LTAC also by Anil. Please also note that our 100th podcast approaches! Please call 929-GERI-PAL to let us know what is working and what can be better about GeriPal. You might make it on the air! by: Alex Smith @AlexSmithMD