Palliative care reduces hospital costs and reduces the time spent in hospital according to a recent study published on 30 April in JAMA Internal Medicine, carried out by scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the School of Medicine at Trinity College Dublin.
Although it has already been established that palliative care “improves the quality of care, prolongs survival and promotes family well-being”, the study showed that it can also “shorten hospital stays and cut costs”. R. Sean Morrison, co-author of the study pointed out that: “this study proves that better care can go hand in hand with a better bottom line.”
This study, which collated data from six previous studies, focused on over 130,000 American adults, hospitalised in the US between 2001 and 2015, 3.6% of whom received palliative care. It is “the biggest and most rigorous study to date” analysing how palliative care can cut health costs.
The study highlighted an average saving of $3,237 per patient who received palliative care whilst in hospital, in addition to other treatment, compared to patients without palliative care. A saving of up to $4,251 per hospital stay was made for patients diagnosed with cancer. In the case of patients with several diseases, palliative care is an even greater source of savings.
Although palliative care in the US has “constantly increased over the last 30 years […], care hospitals have not used palliative care to its full potential”.