Lower Hospital Costs Tied to Palliative Care Consult

Greater cost savings for cancer patients with more comorbidities

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FRIDAY, Jan. 8, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Palliative care consultation within two days of hospitalization is associated with lower hospital costs for patients with incurable cancer, with greater savings for greater number of comorbidities, according to a study published in the January issue of Health Affairs.

The research included terminally ill cancer patients with a number of comorbidities. When they were admitted to the hospital, some were seen by a palliative care team while others received usual care.

Hospital costs for those in the palliative care group were 22 percent lower than for those in the usual care group. Costs were up to 32 percent lower for palliative care patients with the greatest number of comorbidities.

The study results suggest other avenues for future research. "The fact that we found greater cost savings for cancer patients with more comorbidities than for those with fewer comorbidities raises the question of whether similar results would be observed in patients with other serious illnesses and multimorbidity," study coauthor Peter May, a professor at Trinity College Dublin and a former visiting research fellow at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, said in a university news release. "Future research is also needed to determine when in the course of illness palliative care is most cost-effective."

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