Palliative Care Reduces ICU Use by 10%


A recent study published in JAMA showed that palliative care services at hospitals was associated with a 10% reduction in ICU use for patients who died during hospitalization.  The researchers noted that over half of the hospitals sampled in the study reported that they never had a palliative care program.  Ask your state legislator to improve end of life care for patients by focusing on increasing availability of palliative care services, instead of legalizing assisted suicide.

“Lead author May Hua, MD, MS, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and colleagues analyzed data from 51 New York hospitals that either did or did not implement palliative care to learn if the services decreased the use of intensive care at the end-of-life for hospitalized patients. Along with a reduction in ICU use, implementation of palliative care services also reduces treatment intensity for end-of-life hospitalized patients.

Implementing such care programs could be a way to improve the quality of end-of-life care for patients who die in the hospital, Hua said in a statement. What’s more, a decrease in end-of-life ICU use could translate to a significant cost reduction—a reduction of just 4% could lead to savings of approximately $265 million per year in the US.

The investigators included patients at least 18 years old who died during terminal hospitalization in 1 of the 51 New York hospitals. Among the hospitals included in the study, 24 had a palliative care program and 27 reported never having one.”

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