THURSDAY, Sept. 27, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- For adult patients in the intensive care unit (ICU), the availability of hospital-based palliative care is not associated with in-hospital treatment intensity, according to a study published in the September issue of the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
May Hua, M.D., from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study of adult ICU patients to examine the correlation between availability of hospital-based palliative care and treatment intensity. Data were included for 1,025,503 ICU patients in 151 hospitals.
The researchers found that 79.5 percent of the patients received care in a hospital with a palliative care program. Patients in hospitals with and without palliative care programs had a similar length of stay, with a statistically significant, but not clinically meaningful, difference (six versus six days; adjusted rate ratio, 1.04; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.03 to 1.05; P < 0.001); other health care use outcomes were also similar. Compared to patients in hospitals without palliative care programs, patients in hospitals with palliative care programs were more likely to be discharged to hospice (1.7 versus 1.4 percent; adjusted odds ratio, 1.46; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.30 to 1.64; P < 0.001).
"Currently, the measurable benefit of palliative care programs for critically ill patients may be the increased use of hospice facilities, as opposed to decreased health care use during an ICU-associated hospitalization," the authors write.