Early palliative care reduces hospital readmissions by 23% for patients with cancer

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According to a new study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium in Boston, Massachusetts, researchers at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina, have designed a collaborative approach in cancer care that decreased the number of patients readmitted to the hospital or sent to intensive care.

Their new treatment model consists of medical oncologists and physicians specializing in palliative care rounding together to care for patients with solid tumors. The two types of physicians met multiple times a day to review their patients' care.

Then, the researchers reviewed the 2,353 inpatient encounters that the cooperative team rounded on since 2011. Their analysis showed that there was a 23% reduction in the number of patients readmitted within 1 week of discharge. They also found a 15% reduction in the number of patients transferred to intensive care. The collaborative team model also allowed patients to be discharged approximately 8 hours sooner and hospice referrals rose 17%.

The findings suggest that implementing palliative care sooner in patient care, rather than prolonging palliative care until disease progression, will allow patients to talk about their desired quality of life earlier. The researchers hope to also conduct cost-benefit analyses.

Early palliative care reduces hospital readmissions by 23% for patients with cancer
Researchers designed a collaborative approach that decreased the number of patients readmitted.

Doctors at Duke University Hospital have developed a new collaborative model in cancer care that reduced the rates at which patients were sent to intensive care or readmitted to the hospital after discharge. The Duke researchers shared their findings today at the Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

In the new treatment model, medical oncologists and palliative care physicians partnered in a "co-rounding" format to deliver cancer care for patients admitted to Duke University Hospital's solid tumor unit. The Duke model fostered collaboration and communication between the specialists, who met several times a day to discuss patient care.

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