At home on the sofa, in a hospital bed, or in a care home: where a death takes place is always recorded on the death certificate. Until now, however, this information has never been collated and evaluated. In an Original Article in the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztbl Int 112:496-504), Burkhard Dasch and his co-authors analyze for the first time the place of death records for Germany. What they found was that every second person died in a hospital; only one in four died at home.
The study evaluated more than 24 000 death certificates from Westphalia-Lippe--around 11 500 from 2001 and 12 500 from 2011--and revealed a trend in the distribution of places of death. In 2001, 27.5% of deaths occurred at home; by 2011 the figure was only 23%. People are also dying less often in hospital than previously (57.6% in 2001 vs. 51% in 2011). On the other hand, deaths in nursing or care homes are increasing. In 2001, only one in eight died in a home; in 2011 it was one in five. So far, not many patients are dying in palliative care units and hospices, but the numbers of deaths in these institutions are clearly on the rise.