Cancer patients admitted to the hospital with advanced stages of disease who were referred early to palliative care had decreased health care utilization and increased use of support services following discharge, according to a new study led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Published today in the Journal of Oncology Practice, the study also determined that a systemized process of referrals resulted in significant improvements in 30-day readmission rates, hospice referral, and receipt of chemotherapy after discharge in patients with advanced cancers. This is the first study to demonstrate that among advanced cancer patients admitted to an inpatient oncology service, standardized use of triggers for palliative care consultation is associated with substantial improvement on multiple quality measures.
Patients with advanced cancers often have significant symptoms that affect their emotional status, quality of life, and functional ability. The integration of palliative care improves symptom control and decreases unwanted health care use, yet many patients are never offered these services.
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