Measurement and Quality

Best and Worst States Providing Palliative Care

October 30, 2015 | By CAPC Staff

America’s Care of Serious Illness: 2015 State-by-State Report Card on Access to Palliative Care in Our Nation’s Hospitals, was released on Capitol Hill and in the Journal of Palliative Medicine on October 1, 2015. The report demonstrates that access to palliative care remains highly variable and depends more upon accidents of geography and hospital ownership than it does upon the needs of patients with serious illness and their families.

Millions of seriously ill Americans and their families living in the south of the United States, as well as in Alaska, Kansas, New Mexico and Wyoming, still have inadequate access to palliative care teams. The report was conducted by the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) and National Palliative Care Research Center (NPCRC).

Key findings on the growth in access to hospital palliative care teams across the fifty states include:

  • Overall, the southern U.S states received a grade of C (60% or fewer hospitals have palliative care teams) as compared to As and Bs (60% or more hospitals) for all other regions.
  • States receiving a D grade (40% or less of hospitals having palliative care) were Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wyoming.
  • Only 23% of for-profit hospitals have palliative care. Not-for-profit hospitals are 7 times more likely to have a palliative care team than for-profits.
  • In a sign of progress since 2008, 17 states received a grade of A (up from 3 in the 2008 report and 7 in the 2011 report). They are: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
  • 90% hospitals with 300 beds or more have palliative care teams.
  • 90% of hospitals operated by the Catholic Church have palliative care.
  • 78% of Medicare patients died near a hospital that had a palliative care team, suggesting that access is improving for this patient population.
  • 96% of teaching hospitals now have palliative care teams, increasing the likelihood that the next generation of clinicians will receive training.