Hospital palliative care saves money, calms patients

In the past, a dying or seriously ill patient had few options but to stay in the hospital or go to a hospice and give up the right to treatment. Increasingly, however, hospitals are offering palliative care services which help the patients understand their options and come to terms with their condition. According to one estimate, in fact, about one-third of U.S. hospitals now offer some form of palliative care. Many such services, such as the one at D.C.'s George Washington University Hospital, are interdisciplinary programs that include not only medical practitioners but also spiritual advisers and social workers.

These programs, unlike hospice care, don't require patients to give up on curative care or to have a life expectancy of less than six months. Their goal is to improve the patient's quality of life, but by better managing symptoms, they can often cut costs as well. Observers only expect the volume of such programs to grow in coming years, as more patients come to expect a more comfortable, dignified death of their choosing.

To get more background on this trend:
- read this article from The Washington Post (reg. req.)

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