Palliative care programs may become standard practice in US hospitals

Hospitals across the nation continue to implement palliative care programs, according to a press release issued by the Center to Advance Palliative Care.

Using data from the American Hospital Association (AHA) Annual Survey Database, the new analysis found that the number of palliative care programs in US hospitals with 50 or more beds increased from 658 to 1,486 in the years 2000 to 2008. This represents a 129% increase. Furthermore, although growth occurred nationwide, large hospitals were more likely than other types of hospitals to have a program.

“Palliative care programs are transforming care of the seriously ill in hospitals,” said Diane Meier, MD, director of the nonprofit Center to Advanced Palliative Care. Such programs “[address] the fragmentation of the healthcare system and [put] the focus back on communication with the patient and family. Hospitals today recognize that the cost of not providing this type of care is just too high.”

According to background information provided in the press release announcing the findings, palliative care is a new field of medicine that is associated with improvements in both health care quality and health care costs.

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