BACKGROUND: Palliative needs in older patients are often not timely identified. The Surprise Question (SQ) 'would I be surprised if this patient died in the next year?' is a well-researched tool that could aid in this effort. Most studies thus far involved physicians or specialist nurses, however the predictive value of the SQ when used by general nurses caring for hospitalized older patients is unknown.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the predictive value of the SQ when used by general nurses and student nurses, in determining one year mortality in acutely hospitalized older patients.
DESIGN: Observational cohort study with an one year follow-up.
SETTING: One academic and one regional hospital in the Netherlands.
PARTICIPANTS: Patients >=70 years acutely hospitalized for at least 48 hours.
METHODS: Registered nurses and student nurses answered the SQ with 'No' (a positive SQ), 'Yes' or 'Don't know'. Data on student nurses was analysed separately. The sensitivity, specificity, negative- and positive predictive values were calculated. Furthermore, logistic regression was performed to determine the odds of death.
RESULTS: 66 registered nurses answered the SQ for 252 patients of whom 77 (30.6%) died in the year after inclusion. Respectively, 44%, 14% and 22% died within the 'No', 'Yes' and 'Don't know' group. 85% of patients who died during admission or in the first three months post-discharge were identified. The sensitivity and specificity were 76.7% and 56.6%. The positive and negative predictive values were 43.7% and 84.6 %. Compared to persons in whom the SQ was answered with yes, a no answer was associated with an 4.7 times increased odds of dying in the next 12 months (odds ratio 4.71, 95% CI 2.43-9.12, p<0.001). Additionally, 20 student nurses answered the SQ about 73 patients; sensitivity and specificity were 46.7% and 72.1%, with a positive and negative predictive value of 53.8% and 66.0% respectively.
CONCLUSION: The usability of the Surprise Question in predicting 12-month mortality in older acutely admitted patients is limited, due to the high false positive rate. The SQ when used by non-specialized nurses identifies vulnerable patients with an increased mortality risk and can be used as a first step in assessing a patients' palliative needs, but has limited use as a single criterion for referral to specialist palliative care.
Objectives: Hospice use reduces costly aggressive end-of-life (EOL) care (eg, repeated hospitalizations, intensive care unit care, and emergency department visits). Nevertheless, associations between hospice stays and EOL expenditures in prior research have been inconsistent. We examined the differential associations between hospice stay duration and EOL expenditures among newly diagnosed patients with cancer, congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and dementia.
Methods: In the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results–Medicare data, we identified 240 246 decedents diagnosed with the aforementioned conditions during 2001 to 2013. We used zero-inflated negative binomial regression models to examine the differential associations between hospice length of services and EOL expenditures incurred during the last 90, 180, and 360 days of life.
Results: For the last 360 days of expenditures, hospice stays beyond 30 days were positively associated with expenditures for decedents with COPD, CHF, and dementia but were negatively associated for cancer decedents (all P<.001) after adjusting for demographic and medical covariates. In contrast, for the last 90 days of expenditures, hospice stay duration and expenditures were consistently negatively associated for each of the 4 patient disease groups.
Conclusions: Longer hospice stays were associated with lower 360-day expenditures for cancer patients but higher expenditures for other patients. We recommend that Medicare hospice payment reforms take distinct disease trajectories into account. The relationship between expenditures and hospice stay length also depended on the measurement duration, such that measuring expenditures for the last 6 months of life or less overstates the cost-saving benefit of lengthy hospice stays.
Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the patterns of discharge and re-enrollment to a community palliative care service, and to identify factors associated with re-enrollment.
Background: Community-based palliative care is a limited resource. The evidence base to guide discharge practices from community palliative care services is limited.
Methods: A retrospective audit of the electronic medical records for all patients discharged from the Sacred Heart Community Palliative Care Service (SHCPCS), Sydney, from July 2010 to July 2016 was conducted. Patients were excluded if they were discharged due to death, transferred out of catchment area, declined the service, transferred to another hospital, or were referred inappropriately.
Data extracted included sociodemographic variables, living situation, diagnoses, and discharge and re-enrollment details. Using binary logistic regression analysis, predictive factors, including socio-demographic characteristics, diagnosis and length of episode of care, were evaluated.
Results: Of the 739 patients who met the inclusion criteria, 42 (5.7%) were re-enrolled to the service. The median length of the initial episode of care was 65 days and the median timeframe between discharge and re-enrollment was 216 days. Patients living in residential care facilities (odds ratio [OR] 3.45; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.28–9.28; p = 0.01) and those with malignant diagnoses (OR 2.22; 95% CI 1.00–4.93; p = 0.04) had higher rates of re-enrollment.
Discussion: The proportion of patients re-enrolled to the service was low. Both patient factors and disease factors were associated with re-enrollment. Future prospective studies evaluating prognostic factors to assist with effective discharge processes and guidelines are warranted.
Background: Palliative care supports quality of life, symptom control, and goal setting in heart failure (HF) patients. Unlike hospice, palliative care does not restrict life-prolonging therapy. This study examined the association between palliative care during hospitalization for HF on the subsequent transitions and procedures.
Methods and Results: Veterans admitted to hospitals with HF from 2010 to 2015 were randomly selected for the Veterans Administration External Peer Review Program. Variables pertaining to demographic, clinical, laboratory, and usage were captured from Veterans Administration electronic records. Patients receiving hospice services before admission were excluded. Patients who received palliative care were propensity matched to those who did not. The primary outcomes were whether the patient experienced transitions or procedures in the 6 months after admission. Transitions included multiple readmissions (=2) or intensive care admissions and procedures included mechanical ventilation, pacemaker implantation, or defibrillator implantation. Among 57 182 hospitalized HF patients, 1431 received palliative care, and were well matched to 1431 without (standardized mean differences = ±0.05 on all matched variables). Palliative care was associated with significantly fewer multiple rehospitalizations (30.9% versus 40.3%, P<0.001), mechanical ventilation (2.8% versus 5.4%, P=0.004), and defibrillator implantation (2.1% versus 3.6%, P=0.01). After adjustment for facility fixed effects, palliative care consultation was associated with a significantly reduced hazard of multiple readmissions (adjusted hazard ratio=0.73, 95% CI, 0.64–0.84) and mechanical ventilation (adjusted hazard ratio=0.76, 95% CI, 0.67–0.87).
Conclusions: palliative care during HF admissions was associated with fewer readmissions and less mechanical ventilation. When available, engagement of HF patients and caregivers in palliative care for symptom control, quality of life, and goals of care discussions may be associated with reduced rehospitalizations and mechanical ventilation.
Background: A community palliative care service (CPCS) identified its after-hours support as sub-optimal in avoiding acute hospitalisation and supporting patients to remain at home. It created and conducted a pilot of an extended hours palliative care service (EHPCS) using current resources.
Aims: To evaluate the efficacy of an extended hours palliative care service pilot.
Methods: Retrospective chart review of after-hours calls taken before the trial, usual care, was undertaken. During the trial, quantitative data was gathered of the outcome of each after-hours call, including outcomes of occasion of service, reason for and length and times of calls.
Findings: The extended hours palliative care service, compared with usual care, showed an almost 50% decrease in acute hospitalisation, nearly doubled after-hours palliative care unit admission and a 17% increase in patients staying in their home. EHPCS was positively received by CPCS staff, despite cost and workforce impact.
Conclusions: EHPCS can positively impact on reducing avoidable hospitalisations and facilitate palliative care patients to be in their preferred place of care.
Introduction: Palliative care in Parkinson's Disease (PD) is an effective intervention to improve quality of life, although historically, access and availability have been very restricted.
Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study using the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) data from 2007 to 2014. Diagnostic codes were used to identify patients with PD and palliative care referral. Trends were calculated and logistic analysis performed to identify predictors of palliative care use.
Results: We identified 397,963 hospitalizations from 2007 to 2014 for patients with PD. Of these, 10,639 (2.67%) were referred to palliative care. The rate of consultation increased from 0.85% in 2007 to 4.49% in 2014. For 1 unit in year increase, there was 1.23 time the odds of receiving palliative consultation (OR 1.23, CI 1.21–1.25, p < 0.0001). Hispanics (OR 0.90, CI 0.81–1.01, p = 0.0550), Black (OR 0.90, CI 0.81–1.01, p = 0.0747) and White patients had similar rates of referral after adjustment. Women were less likely to be referred to palliative care (OR 0.90, CI 0.87–0.94, p < 0.0001). Other factors strongly associated with a higher rate of referrals included private insurance when compared to Medicare (OR 2.14, CI 1.89–2.41, p < 0.0001) and higher income (OR 1.41, CI 1.30–1.53, p < 0.0001).
Conclusion: There has been a significant increase in palliative care referrals among hospitalized patients with PD in the US, although the overall rate remains low. After controlling for confounders, racial and ethnic disparities were not found. Women, patients with Medicare/Medicaid, and those with lower income were less likely to be referred to palliative care.
Background: In the last years of life, burden of disease and disability and need of health- and social care often increase. Social, functional and psychological factors may be important in regard to social- and health care utilization. This study aims to describe use of health- and social care during the last year of life among persons living in ordinary housing or in assisted living facilities.
Methods: A retrospective study examining health- and social care utilization during their last year of life, using a subsample from the Swedish twin registries individually linked to several Swedish national quality registries (NQR). Persons that died during 2008–2009 and 2011–2012 (n = 1518) were selected.
Results: Mean age at death was 85.9 ± 7.3 (range 65.1–109.0). Among the 1518 participants (women n = 888, 58.5%), of which 741 (49%) were living in assisted living facilities and 1061 (69.9%) had at least one hospitalization during last year of life. The most common causes of death were cardiovascular disease (43.8%) and tumors (15.3%). A multivariable logistic regression revealed that living in ordinary housing, younger age and higher numbers of NQR’s increased the likelihood of hospitalization.
Conclusions: Persons in their last year of life consumed high amount of health- and social care although 12% did not receive any home care. Married persons received less home care than never married. Persons living in ordinary housing had higher numbers of hospitalizations compared to participants in assisted living facilities. Older persons and persons registered in fewer NQR’s were less hospitalized.
PURPOSE: Women who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest have similar rates of survival to hospital admission as men; however, women are less likely to survive to hospital discharge. We hypothesized that women would have higher rates of "do not attempt resuscitation" (DNAR) orders and that this order would be associated with lower use of aggressive interventions.
METHODS: We identified adult hospital admissions with a diagnosis of cardiac arrest (ICD-9 427.5) from the 2010 California State Inpatient Dataset. Multivariable logistic regression was used to test the association between patient sex and a DNAR order within the first 24 h of admission, adjusting for patient demographic characteristics and comorbid medical conditions. In secondary analysis, procedures performed after establishment of DNAR order and survival to hospital discharge were compared by sex.
FINDINGS: We analyzed 6562 patients (44% women, 56% men) who experienced out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and survived to hospital admission. In unadjusted analysis, more women than men had establishment of a DNAR order during the first 24 h of admission (23.4% versus 19.3%; P < 0.01). After adjusting for age, race, and comorbid conditions, women remained significantly more likely to have a DNAR order established during the first 24 h of their hospital admission after cardiac arrest compared with men (odds ratio = 1.23; 95% CI, 1.09-1.40). No sex difference was found in procedures used after DNAR order was established.
IMPLICATIONS: Female survivors of cardiac arrest are significantly more likely than men to have a DNAR order established within the first 24 h of in-hospital treatment. The establishment of a DNAR order is associated with patients undergoing fewer procedures than individuals who do not have a DNAR order established. Given that patients who have a DNAR order receive less-aggressive intervention after arrest, it is possible that an early DNAR order may contribute to sex differences in survival to hospital discharge.
OBJECTIVE: To identify and synthesise existing literature exploring the impact of relational and informational continuity of care on preferred place of death, hospital admissions and satisfaction for palliative care patients in qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods literature.
DESIGN: A mixed methods rapid review.
METHODS: PUBMED, PsychINFO, CINAHL were searched from June 2008 to June 2018 in order to identify original peer reviewed, primary qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods research exploring the impact of continuity of care for people receiving palliative care. Synthesis methods as outlined by the Cochrane Qualitative and Implementation Methods Group were applied to qualitative studies while meta-analyses for quantitative data were planned.
OUTCOMES: The impact of interventions designed to promote continuity of care for people receiving palliative care on the following outcomes was explored: achieving preferred place of death, satisfaction with care and avoidable hospital admissions.
RESULTS: 18 eligible papers were identified (11 qualitative, 6 quantitative and 1 mixed methods papers). In all, 1951 patients and 190 family caregivers were recruited across included studies. Meta-analyses were not possible due to heterogeneity in outcome measures and tools used. Two studies described positive impact on facilitating preferred place of death. Four described a reduction in avoidable hospital admissions. No negative impacts of interventions designed to promote continuity were reported. Patient satisfaction was not assessed in quantitative studies. Participants described a significant impact on their experiences as a result of the lack of informational and relational continuity.
CONCLUSIONS: This rapid review highlights the impact that continuity of care can have on the experiences of patients receiving palliative care. The evidence for the impact of continuity on place of death and hospital admissions is limited. Methods for enhancing, and recording continuity should be considered in the design and development of future healthcare interventions to support people receiving palliative care.
The integration of specialized geriatric providers with trauma services has received increased attention with promising results. Palliative medicine consultation (PMC) has been shown to reduce length of stay, improve symptom management, and clarify advance directives in the geriatric trauma population. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether PMC reduced tracheostomies and percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomies (trach/PEG) and readmission rates in the geriatric trauma population. Retrospective cohort analysis of patients 65 years of age and older, admitted to a Level I trauma center surgical intensive care unit from 2013 to 2014. Patients who died within 1 day were excluded. Statistical analyses included descriptive statistics, independent-samples t test for continuous variables, 2 test for categorical variables, and logistic regression analysis. A total of 202 patients were included. Palliative medicine consultation occurred in 48%. Average time from admission to PMC was 2.91 days. Thirty-day readmission rate was 19.3%. Patients with a PMC (69.1%) were less likely to undergo trach/PEG (30.9%; p < .001) but more likely if the consult was late (>72 hr posttrauma; 22.0% vs. 40.4%; p = .05). Patients without a trach/PEG were more likely to survive 1 year posttrauma (85.7% vs. 14.3%; p = .003). Thirty-day readmission rates were similar between groups. In a logistic regression analysis, PMC, age, and injury severity score demonstrated an independent association with trach/PEG (all p < .05). Early palliative consults (<72 hr posttrauma) for geriatric trauma patients may reduce tracheostomy and percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy procedures and hospital stays.
Background: Patients requiring mechanical ventilation (MV) have high morbidity and mortality. Providing palliative care has been suggested as a way to improve comprehensive management. The objective of this retrospective cross-sectional study was to identify predictors for palliative care utilization and the association with hospital length of stay (LOS) among surgical patients requiring prolonged MV (= 96 consecutive hours).
Methods: National Inpatient Sample (NIS) data 2009–2013 was used to identify adults (age = 18) who had a surgical procedure and required prolonged MV (= 96 consecutive hours), as well as patients who also had a palliative care encounter. Outcomes were palliative care utilization and association with hospital LOS.
Results: Utilization of palliative care among surgical patients with prolonged MV increased yearly, from 5.7% in 2009 to 11.0% in 2013 (p < 0.001). For prolonged MV surgical patients who died, palliative care increased from 15.8% in 2009 to 33.2% in 2013 (p < 0.001). Median hospital LOS for patients with and without palliative care was 16 and 18 days, respectively (p < 0.001). Patients discharged to either short or long term care facilities had a shorter LOS if palliative care was provided (20 vs. 24 days, p < 0.001). Factors associated with palliative care utilization included older age, malignancy, and teaching hospitals. Non-Caucasian race was associated with less palliative care utilization.
Conclusions: Among surgical patients receiving prolonged MV, palliative care utilization is increasing, although it remains low. Palliative care is associated with shorter hospital LOS for patients discharged to short or long term care facilities.
BACKGROUND: Acute hospitalization is a frequent reason for live discharge from hospice. Although risk factors for live discharge among hospice patients have been well documented, prior research has not examined the role of neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics, or how these characteristics relate to racial/ethnic disparities in hospice outcomes.
OBJECTIVE: To examine associations between neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics and risk for live discharge from hospice because of acute hospitalization. The authors also explore the moderating role of race/ethnicity in any observed relationship.
RESEARCH DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study using electronic medical records of hospice patients (N=17,290) linked with neighborhood-level socioeconomic data (N=55 neighborhoods). Multilevel models were used to identify the independent significance of patient and neighborhood-level characteristics for risk of live discharge because of acute hospitalization.
RESULTS: Compared with the patients in the most well-educated and affluent sections of New York City [quartile (Q)4], the odds of live discharge from hospice because of acute hospitalization were greater among patients who resided in neighborhoods where lower proportions of residents held college degrees [Q1 adjusted odds ratio (AOR), 1.36; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.06-1.75; Q2 AOR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.07-1.84] and median household incomes were lower (Q1 AOR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.10-1.85; Q2 AOR, 1.43; 95% CI, 1.10-1.85; Q3 AOR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.07-1.80). However, these observed relationships were not equally distributed by patient race/ethnicity; the association of neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage and risk for live discharge was significantly lower among Hispanic compared with white patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings demonstrate neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage poses a significant risk for live discharge from hospice. Additional research is needed to clarify the social mechanisms underlying this association, including greater attention to the experiences of hospice patients from under-represented racial/ethnic groups.
Family support is more, not less, important during crisis. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining public safety necessitates restricting the physical presence of families for hospitalized patients. In response, health systems must rapidly adapt family-centric procedures and tools to circumvent restrictions on physical presence. Strategies for maintaining family integrity must acknowledge clinicians’ limited time and attention to devote to learning new skills. Internet-based solutions can facilitate the routine, predictable, and structured communication which is central to family-centered care. But the reliance on technology may compromise patient privacy and exacerbate racial, socioeconomic, and geographic disparities for populations that lack access to reliable internet access, devices or technological literacy. We provide a toolbox of strategies for supporting family-centered inpatient care during physical distancing responsive to the current clinical climate. Innovations in the implementation of family involvement during hospitalizations may lead to long-term progress in the delivery of family-centered care.
Background: In order to avoid unnecessary use of hospital services at the end-of-life, palliative care should be initiated early enough in order to have sufficient time to initiate and carry out good quality advance care planning (ACP). This single center study assesses the impact of the PC decision and its timing on the use of hospital services at EOL and the place of death.
Methods: A randomly chosen cohort of 992 cancer patients treated in a tertiary hospital between Jan 2013 –Dec 2014, who were deceased by the end of 2014, were selected from the total number of 2737 identified from the hospital database. The PC decision (the decision to terminate life-prolonging anticancer treatments and focus on symptom centered palliative care) and use of PC unit services were studied in relation to emergency department (ED) visits, hospital inpatient days and place of death.
Results: A PC decision was defined for 82% of the patients and 37% visited a PC unit. The earlier the PC decision was made, the more often patients had an appointment at the PC unit (> 180 days prior to death 72% and < 14 days 10%). The number of ED visits and inpatient days were highest for patients with no PC decision and lowest for patients with both a PC decision and an PC unit appointment (60 days before death ED visits 1.3 vs 0.8 and inpatient days 9.9 vs 2.9 respectively, p < 0.01). Patients with no PC decision died more often in secondary/tertiary hospitals (28% vs. 19% with a PC decision, and 6% with a decision and an appointment to a PC unit).
Conclusions: The PC decision to initiate a palliative goal for the treatment had a distinct impact on the use of hospital services at the EOL. Contact with a PC unit further increased the likelihood of EOL care at primary care.
We assessed the trend of palliative care (PC) referrals and its effect on hospitalization cost and length of stay (LOS) in ruptured aortic aneurysm (rAA). The Nationwide Inpatient Sample from 2005 to 2014 was used to identify admissions with age =50 and rAA. A total of 54 134 rAA admissions were identified and 5019 (9.3%) had PC referrals. During the study period, PC referral rate increased from 0.97% to 15.3% (P trend < .0001). Length of stay (1.7 vs 2.8 days, adjusted mean ratio [aMR] = 0.62, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.58-0.66), and cost (US$7778 vs US$13 575, aMR = 0.57, 95% CI: 0.52-0.63) were significantly lower in rAA admissions that did not undergo interventions. In the percutaneous repair group, LOS was similar but the cost was higher (US$61 759 vs US$52 260, aMR = 1.18, 95% CI: 1.05-1.30), whereas in surgical repair group, LOS was shorter (4.6 vs 5.9 days, aMR = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.73-0.82) but the cost was higher (US$59 755 vs US$52 523, aMR = 1.14, 95% CI: 1.02-1.28). Palliative care could shorten LOS and save hospitalization cost in rAA admissions not a candidate for repair. Further studies are required to investigate the variable effects of PC on rAA.
Objective:To investigate trends and associated factors of utilization of hospital palliative care among patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and analyze its impact on length of hospital stay, hospital charges, and in-hospital mortality.
Methods: Using the 2005-2014 National Inpatient Sample in the United States, the compound annual growth rate was used to investigate the temporal trend of utilization of hospital palliative care. Multivariate multilevel logistic regression analyses were performed to analyze the association with patient-related factors, hospital factors, length of stay, in-hospital mortality, and hospital charges.
Results: The overall proportion of utilization of hospital palliative care for the patient with SLE was 0.6% over 10 years. It increased approximately 12-fold from 0.1% (2005) to 1.17% (2014). Hospital palliative care services were offered more frequently to older patients, patients with high severity illnesses, and in urban teaching hospitals or large size hospitals. Patients younger than 40 years, the lowest household income group, or Medicare beneficiaries less likely received palliative care during hospitalization. Hospital palliative care services were associated with increased length of stay (? = 1.407, P < .0001) and in-hospital mortality (odds ratio, 48.18; 95% confidence interval, 41.59-55.82), and reduced hospital charge (? = ?0.075, P = .009).
Conclusion: Hospital palliative care service for patients with SLE gradually increased during the past decade in US hospitals. However, this showed disparities in access and was associated with longer hospital length of stay and higher in-hospital mortality. Nevertheless, hospital palliative care services yielded a cost-saving effect.
Aims: To examine the impact of palliative care on acute care hospitalizations, survival, symptoms, and quality of life (QOL) in patients with advanced heart failure.
Methods and results: We conducted a systematic search of publications through CENTRAL, CINAHL, EMBASE, and MEDLINE originally up to July 2017, and then updated to June 2019. The study was registered (PROSPERO ID: CRD42017069685) prior to its initiation. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included that tested an interdisciplinary palliative care intervention (compared to usual care) primarily in a heart failure population. Main outcomes assessed were hospitalizations, mortality, QOL, and symptom burden. Ten independent RCTs were selected, representing a total of 1050 participants (921 with a diagnosis of heart failure). Compared with usual care, palliative care interventions were associated with a substantial reduction in hospitalizations [odds ratio 0.56 (0.33–0.94); four trials; I2 = 27%], modest improvement in QOL [standardized mean difference (SMD) 0.25; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.06–0.45; seven trials; I2 = 15%], and modest reduction in symptom burden (SMD -0.29; 95% CI -0.54–0.03; three trials; I2 = 15%). There was no clear adverse impact on mortality. Most studies had methodological limitations that increased the risk of biases.
Conclusion: Compared to usual care, palliative care interventions substantially reduce hospitalizations, with no clear adverse effect on survival. Effects on QOL and symptom burden appear to be modest, and indicate that further efforts to improve these patient centred outcomes are needed.
OBJECTIVES: To estimate differences in spending and utilization between hospice users and non-users with lung cancer by length of hospice enrollment.
STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective analysis using 2009-2013 Medicare claims.
METHODS: The study sample was a 10% random sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries with lung cancer who died between 2010 and 2013. We identified different categories of hospice users (hospice enrollment for 1-7 days, 8-14 days, 15-30 days, 31-60 days, 61 days - 6 months) and non-users. We used propensity score matching to match users in each enrollment category with non-users. The outcomes were: a) total Medicare spending, b) number of hospitalizations, c) number of emergency department (ED) visits, d) number of physician-administered chemotherapy claims, and e) number of radiation therapy sessions. Regression analysis was used to compare outcomes between users and non-users by enrollment period.
RESULTS: Hospice users had significantly lower spending, fewer hospitalizations, and fewer ED visits than non-users across all categories of hospice enrollment. Large savings occurred when patients stayed in hospice for at least one month (US$16,566 for those enrolled 61 days - 6 months; US$16,409 for those enrolled 31-60 days). Significant reduction in use of outpatient services including chemotherapy and radiation therapy was observed among patients using hospice for at least 1 month.
CONCLUSIONS: Hospice led to cost savings by reducing utilization of aggressive care towards end-of-life among lung cancer patients. While cost savings were realized even when hospice is utilized for a short duration, large savings occurred when hospice is used for at least 1 month.
BACKGROUND: Hospitalisation during the last weeks of life when there is no medical need or desire to be there is distressing and expensive. This study sought palliative care initiatives which may avoid or shorten hospital stay at the end of life and analysed their success in terms reducing bed days.
METHODS: Part 1 included a search of literature in PubMed and Google Scholar between 2013 and 2018, an examination of governmental and organisational publications plus discussions with external and co-author experts regarding other sources. This initial sweep sought to identify and categorise relevant palliative care initiatives. In Part 2, we looked for publications providing data on hospital admissions and bed days for each category.
RESULTS: A total of 1252 abstracts were reviewed, resulting in ten broad classes being identified. Further screening revealed 50 relevant publications describing a range of multi-component initiatives. Studies were generally small and retrospective. Most researchers claim their service delivered benefits. In descending frequency, benefits identified were support in the community, integrated care, out-of-hours telephone advice, care home education and telemedicine. Nurses and hospices were central to many initiatives. Barriers and factors underpinning success were rarely addressed.
CONCLUSIONS: A wide range of initiatives have been introduced to improve end-of-life experiences. Formal evidence supporting their effectiveness in reducing inappropriate/non-beneficial hospital bed days was generally limited or absent.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: N/A.
Importance: Growing evidence shows that palliative care (PC) improves treatment outcomes in patients with heart failure (HF), but few large-scale studies have prospectively evaluated the processes and outcomes associated with PC consultation for such patients in the real world.
Objective: To characterize processes and outcomes of PC consultations for hospitalized patients with HF compared with patients with cancer.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study of inpatient encounters at community and academic hospitals in the Palliative Care Quality Network enrolled participants between 2013 and 2017. Of a total of 135 197 patients, 57 272 adults with a primary diagnosis of HF or cancer receiving PC consultation were enrolled. Data analysis was performed from April 2018 to December 2019.
Exposures: Primary diagnosis of HF or cancer.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Symptom improvement and changes in care planning documentation after PC consultation.
Results: At the time of consultation, patients with HF were older (mean age, 75.3 years [95% CI, 75.0-75.5 years] vs 65.2 years [95% CI, 65.0-65.3 years]; P < .001), had lower Palliative Performance Scale scores (mean, 35.6% [95% CI, 35.3%-35.9%] vs 42.4% [95% CI, 42.2%-42.6%]; P < .001), and were more likely to be in a critical care unit (5808 of 16 741 patients [35.3%] vs 4985 of 40 531 patients [12.5%]; P < .001) or a telemetry or step-down unit (5802 of 16 741 patients [35.2%] vs 7651 of 40 531 patients [19.2%]; P < .001) compared with patients with cancer. Patients with HF were less likely than patients with cancer to be referred to PC within 24 hours of admission (6773 of 16 741 patients [41.2%] vs 19 348 of 40 531 patients [49.0%]; P < .001) and had longer hospitalizations before receiving PC consultation requests (mean, 4.6 days [95% CI, 4.4-4.8 days] vs 3.9 days [95% CI, 3.8-4.0 days]; P < .001). Patients with HF were referred less frequently for symptoms other than pain (1686 of 16 488 patients [10.2%] vs 8587 of 39 609 patients [21.7%]; P < .001), but were equally likely to report improvements in anxiety (odds ratio, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.71-1.02; P = .08) and more likely to report improvements in dyspnea (odds ratio, 2.17; 95% CI, 1.83-2.57; P < .001) compared with patients with cancer. Patients with HF were less likely than those with cancer to be discharged alive (odds ratio, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.64-0.96; P = .02) or to be referred to hospice (odds ratio, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.47-0.53; P < .001).
Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that PC referral comes late for patients with HF and is used primarily to discuss care planning. Practitioners caring for patients with HF should consider involving PC experts earlier for symptom management.