Increase in palliative care consultations reduces 30-day cancer readmissions

Integration of palliative care helps improves cancer symptom control and decreases unnecessary healthcare use, according to a study in the Journal of Oncology Practice.

Researchers developed standardized criteria, or triggers, for palliative care consultations and examined if the use of these triggers impacted inpatient care. Patients included in the study met at least one of the following eligibility criteria:

•    Had an advanced solid tumor
•    Had prior hospitalization within 30 days
•    Were hospitalized for more than seven days
•    Showed active symptoms

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During the study, those patients who met the criteria for palliative care consultations received them automatically.

The study shows that use of the palliative care consultation triggers increased consultations as well as hospice referrals. Additionally, 30-day readmission rates declined from 35 percent to 18 percent. The rate of patients receiving chemotherapy after discharge also decreased. There was no effect on length of stay.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that among patients with advanced cancer admitted to an inpatient oncology service, the standardized use of triggers for PC consultation is associated with substantial impact on 30-day readmission rates, chemotherapy following discharge, hospice referrals and use of support services following discharge," the authors concluded.

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