Palliative Care Programs Continue Rapid Growth in U.S. Hospitals Becoming Standard Practice throughout the Country

New York, NY (April 6, 2010) - United States hospitals continue to implement palliative care programs at a rapid pace, according to a new analysis released today by the Center to Advance Palliative Care. Palliative care programs are widely regarded to improve the quality of care of serious and chronic illness.

Researchers report that the number of programs in US hospitals with 50 or more beds increased from 658 (24.5%) to 1,486 (58.5%)-a 125.8% increase from 2000-2008.

Palliative care treats the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness. The goal is to relieve suffering and improve quality of life. Unlike hospice care, it can be provided at the same time as curative treatment, and it is not dependent on prognosis. This new field of medicine is associated with improvements in both healthcare quality and healthcare costs.

"Palliative care programs are transforming care of the seriously ill in hospitals," said Diane E. Meier, MD, director of the non-profit Center to Advance Palliative Care. "It addresses the fragmentation of the healthcare system and puts the focus back on communication with the patient and family. Hospitals today recognize that the cost of not providing this type of care is just too high."

Although growth occurred nationwide, large hospitals (81% of hospitals with 300 or more beds) and not-for-profit hospitals (70% with 50 or more beds) were more likely to have a program compared to other types of hospitals.

The new analysis was conducted in conjunction with the National Palliative Care Research Center (NPCRC). The primary source of hospital data used for the analysis was the American Hospital Association (AHA) Annual Survey Database for fiscal years 2000 through 2008.

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The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) provides health care professionals with the tools, training, and technical assistance necessary to start and sustain successful palliative care programs in hospitals and other health care settings. Located at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, CAPC is a national organization dedicated to increasing the availability of quality palliative care services for people facing serious illness. www.capc.org

Contact: Lisa Morgan, Center to Advance Palliative Care, Mount Sinai Medical Center 212.201.2675 or [email protected]

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