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Hospitals Continue to Implement Palliative Care Programs

Continuing trend shows nearly double the number in recent years

THURSDAY, Dec. 7, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- The number of palliative care programs at U.S. hospitals has nearly doubled in recent years, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC).

The latest data shows that 1,240 hospitals currently provide palliative care programs, compared to 632 programs in 2000. That's a 96 percent increase.

The goal of palliative care is to relieve the pain, symptoms and stress of patients who have a serious illness.

"Ten years ago, there were almost no hospital palliative care programs in the U.S. This continuous growth trend is very good news, because if we are going to meet the needs of our aging population, every hospital must have a program," Dr. Diane Meier, CAPC director, said in a prepared statement.

The analysis found that of the 4,103 U.S. hospitals that could have a palliative care program:

  • 30 percent have a program.
  • 50 percent with more than 75 beds have a program.
  • 70 percent with more than 250 beds have a program.
  • 57 percent with a cancer program approved by the American College of Surgeons have a program.
  • 75 percent of Council of Teaching Hospitals members have a program.
  • 46 percent of hospitals in cities with one million to 2.5 million people have a program.
  • Larger hospitals, academic centers, not-for-profit hospitals and VA hospitals are much more likely to have palliative care programs than for-profit hospitals.

The analysis was included in the 2006 American Hospital Association Annual Survey of Hospitals.

It's expected that, by 2030, there will be 70 million older Americans, who will account for 20 percent of the population. While medical advances enable older adults to live longer, they often suffer serious chronic illnesses and ongoing pain and symptoms, the CAPC said.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about palliative care.

SOURCE: Mount Sinai Hospital/School of Medicine, news release, Dec. 7, 2006
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