Palliative care consultations save hospitals approximately $3k per patient

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine examined the link between palliative care consultations and direct hospital costs for adults with serious illnesses.

Researchers searched the Embase, PsycINFO, CENTRAL, PubMed, CINAHL and EconLit databases to identify journal articles using keywords associated with palliative care and economics. They searched Embase, PsycINFO and CENTRAL without a time limitation; and PubMed, CINAHL and EconLit for articles published after August 1, 2013. They analyzed the data from April 8, 2017, to Sept. 16, 2017.

Researchers included six studies in the analysis that estimated the association of palliative care consultations within three days of admission with direct hospital costs. The patients in the studies suffered from one of seven illnesses: cancer; heart, liver or kidney failure; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; AIDS/HIV; or selected neurodegenerative conditions.

The six studies included a total 133,118 patients, of whom 93.2 percent were discharged alive and 40.8 percent had a primary diagnosis of cancer. Around 3.6 percent received a palliative care consultation.

When patients were pooled irrespective of diagnosis, there was a reduction in direct hospital costs associated with palliative care consultation, to the tune of $3,237 per patient. There was a $4,251 reduction in costs for the cancer patients who received palliative care consultations and a $2,105 reduction in costs for noncancer patients who received the same.

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