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Dartmouth Atlas: Poor Care for Terminal Cancer Patients Widespread

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, April 11, 2012

"It's surprising, and a bit frustrating, and I think most importantly, sad for the patients, because they can not go to some public data repository and know what kind of care they're going to get at a particular hospital or a type of hospital," Morden says. "There's very little pattern to it, and we found that it was a hard to sort out."

Morden explains that researchers anticipated that NCI-designated cancer centers in general "would do a better job, would be more in line with quality, [and] they would be more in tune with patient preferences. But we didn't find that."

The facilities were divided into four types: 

  • 21 National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) hospitals,
  • 22 non-NCCN NCI centers
  • 161 academic medical centers
  • 4,240 community hospitals


They were also grouped by size: fewer than 150 beds, 150-300 beds, and greater than 300 beds; and by for-profit versus not-for-profit status.

There were some differences in the level of aggressive care between the hospital types, although the range within each type was wide. 

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