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Palliative Care in Hospitals Continues Rapid Growth Trend, According to Latest CAPC Analysis

New York, NY (March 29, 2013) — Palliative care in U.S. hospitals continues to increase, according to a new analysis released today by the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC). The prevalence of palliative care in U.S. hospitals with 50 or more beds has increased by 157.1% over the past 11 years.

In 2000, less than one-quarter of these hospitals (658) had a palliative care program, compared with more than two-thirds (1,692) in 2011. If current trends continue, by 2014, eight in ten U.S. hospitals with 50 or more beds will have a palliative care program.

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists, who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided along with curative treatment.

Palliative care improves health care quality in three significant ways:

  • Effectively relieves physical and emotional suffering
  • Strengthens patient-family-physician communication and decision making
  • Ensures well-coordinated care across health care settings

The steady growth of palliative care has been primarily in response to the increasing number and needs of Americans living with serious and chronic illness. Also contributing to the rise of palliative care are the overwhelming caregiving burdens faced by patients’ families. Palliative care addresses these challenges through a strong partnership of patient, family and palliative care team.

Key Findings

  • The overall prevalence of hospital palliative care (regardless of hospital bed size) is highest in the densely populated Northeast (74%), a substantial increase from 59% in 2005.
  • The South has the lowest prevalence (42% in 2011), but the highest share of palliative care programs (547) in hospitals with 50 or more beds.

ABOUT CAPC
The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) (www.capc.org and www.getpalliativecare.org) is affiliated with The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and is dedicated to increasing palliative care services for people facing serious illness.

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Lesley Snyder, Center to Advance Palliative Care, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai 212.201.2682 or lesley.snyder@mssm.edu.