Hospitals Use Palliative Care To Improve Patients' Quality Of Life, Reduce Costs

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Palliative Care

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The Washington Poston Tuesday examined the growing practice of palliative care, which"adapts aspects of the hospice philosophy without requiring patients toforgo curative care or to have a life expectancy of six months orless." According to the Post, about one-third of U.S. hospitals now offer some form of palliative care, and last year the American Board of Medical Specialties recognized palliative medicine as a specialized field.

The "main goal" of palliative care is to "improve a patient's quality of life," the Postreports. Interdisciplinary palliative care teams at hospitals "oftendevote much of their time to working with the dying," but as suchprograms "expand and mature, the teams often begin to see patientsearlier in the course of disease, creating a continuum of care fromdiagnosis on," the Post reports. Palliative care also cankeep hospital costs down "by moving patients out of intensive care --and even out of the hospital -- sooner and by managing pain, nausea orrespiratory problems better."

Sean Morrison, director of the National Palliative Care Research Center at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said, "We save a lot of money by providing the right care to the right patients at the right time." Diane Meier, head of the Center to Advance Palliative Care,also based at Mount Sinai, said the rapid growth in palliative careshows hospital administrators are seeing cost savings resulting fromthe care. Meier said, "Hospital CEOs are voting with their feet. We areway past the tipping point" (Kenen, Washington Post, 7/3).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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