Economics of Palliative Care for Hospitalized Adults With Serious Illness

In a meta-analysis of six studies of patients with serious illnesses, it was shown that hospital costs were lower for patients who were seen by a palliative care consultation team than patients who did not receive this type of care. The estimated association was greater for those with a primary diagnosis of cancer and those with more comorbidities compared with those with a non-cancer diagnosis and those with fewer comorbidities.

Researchers were initially seeking to study the association of palliative care consultations (PCC) with direct hospital costs for adults facing these illnesses. The study estimated the association of PCC within 3 days of admission with direct hospital costs for each sample and for subsamples defined by primary diagnoses and number of comorbidities at admission, controlling for confounding with an instrumental variable when available and otherwise propensity score weighting.

“The estimated association of palliative care consultation with hospital costs varies according to baseline clinical factors; prioritizing current staff to patients with a high illness burden and increasing capacity may reduce hospital costs for a population with high policy importance,” say the researchers.

“Increasing palliative care capacity to meet national guidelines may reduce costs for hospitalized adults with serious and complex illnesses,” they add.

For a full breakdown of the study as well as a detailed look at the analysis, click here.

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