Risse & Balboni:Shifting Hospital-Hospice Boundaries - historical perspectives

April 18, 2014

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2013 Jun

Shifting hospital-hospice boundaries: historical perspectives on the institutional care of the dying

Risse GB, Balboni MJ.


Social forces have continually framed how hospitals perceive their role in care of the dying. Hospitals were originally conceived as places of hospitality and spiritual care, but by the 18th century illness was an opponent, conquered through science. Medicalization transformed hospitals to places of physical cure and scientific prowess. Death was an institutional liability. Equipped with new technologies, increased public demand, and the establishment of Medicare in 1965, modern hospitals became the most likely place for Americans to die--increasing after the 1940s and spiking in the 1990s. Medicare's 1983 hospice benefit began to reverse this trend. Palliative care has more recently proliferated, suggesting an institutional shift of alignment with traditional functions of care toward those facing death.


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