Background: Palliative care improves care and reduces costs for hospitalized patients with life-limiting illnesses. There have been no multicenter randomized trials examining impact on patient satisfaction, clinical outcomes, and subsequent health care costs.
Objective: Measure the impact of an interdisciplinary palliative care service (IPCS) on patient satisfaction, clinical outcomes, and cost of care for 6 months posthospital discharge.
Methods: Multicenter, randomized, controlled trial. IPCS provided consultative, interdisciplinary, palliative care to intervention patients. Controls received usual hospital care (UC).
Setting and sample: Five hundred seventeen patients with life-limiting illnesses from a hospital in Denver, Portland, and San Francisco enrolled June 2002 to December 2003.
Measures: Modified City of Hope Patient Questionnaire, total health care costs, hospice utilization, and survival.
Results: IPCS reported higher scores for the Care Experience scale (IPCS: 6.9 versus UC: 6.6, p = 0.04) and for the Doctors, Nurses/Other Care Providers Communication scale (IPCS: 8.3 versus UC: 7.5, p = 0.0004). IPCS patients had fewer intensive care admissions (ICU) on hospital readmission (12 versus 21, p = 0.04), and lower 6-month net cost savings of $4,855 per patient (p = 0.001). IPCS had longer median hospice stays (24 days versus 12 days, p = 0.04). There were no differences in survival or symptom control.
Conclusions: IPCS patients reported greater satisfaction with their care experience and providers' communication, had fewer ICU admissions on readmission, and lower total health care costs following hospital discharge.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00325611.