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Survey of palliative care programs in United States teaching hospitals

Survey of palliative care programs in United States teaching hospitals

Journal of Palliative Medicine 4(3): 309-314

In order to estimate the prevalence of palliative care programs in academic hospitals in the United States, we surveyed a random sample of 100 hospitals in the Council of Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems directory. Sixty percent of hospitals provided information. At least 26% of hospitals had either a palliative care consultation service or inpatient unit and 7% had both. Eighteen percent of hospitals had a palliative care consultation service alone, 19% had an inpatient palliative care unit, 22% reported a hospice affiliation, and 17% had a hospice inpatient contract. Additionally, at least 20% of the remaining hospitals were planning a palliative care program. The consultation services had an average daily census of 6; the inpatient units had an average of 12 beds. Palliative care consultation programs were largely affiliated with departments of medicine or hematology/oncology, and were typically staffed by a physician and a nurse. Only half had a dedicated social worker, one third had a chaplain, one third had a pharmacist, and a few included a bereavement coordinator or volunteer director, suggesting that the hospice model of interdisciplinary care is not being adopted regularly in palliative care programs. In comparison, almost half of hospitals noted established pain services. In conclusion, palliative care programs, although found in a minority of surveyed hospitals, are becoming an established feature of academic medical centers in the United States. More detailed information is needed about the type and quality of care they provide.

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Accession: 047499403

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PMID: 11596541

DOI: 10.1089/109662101753123913

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