According to lead author Dr Ian McCarthy, an assistant professor of economics at Emory University, “palliative care programs are increasingly prevalent in US hospitals but the financial incentives for hospitals to deploy them are not well-understood,” reported Health Behavior News Service.
By analysing data from 38,475 inpatient stays at five hospitals, researchers found that “among patients who died in the hospital, there was a significant cost savings from palliative care of $3,426 per inpatient stay.”
Contrary to previous research, however, they found no cost savings difference for patients discharged alive. This finding, however, can be explained by difference in timing of palliative care, the patient’s diagnosis and make-up of the palliative care team, noted the researchers.
The researchers also found that savings associated with palliative care were highest for patients who had a consult with a palliative care team within the first 10 days of their hospital stay and for patients diagnosed with cancer. Savings also reached their highest levels when a palliative care team included more involvement of physicians and registered nurses.