The role and timing of palliative medicine consultation for women with gynecologic malignancies: association with end of life interventions and direct hospital costs

Gynecol Oncol. 2014 Jan;132(1):3-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2013.10.025. Epub 2013 Oct 29.


Objective: Aggressive care interventions at the end of life (ACE) are reported metrics of sub-optimal quality of end of life care that are modifiable by palliative medicine consultation. Our objective was to evaluate the association of inpatient palliative medicine consultation with ACE scores and direct inpatient hospital costs of patients with gynecologic malignancies.

Methods: A retrospective review of medical records of the past 100 consecutive patients who died from their primary gynecologic malignancies at a single institution was performed. Timely palliative medicine consultation was defined as exposure to inpatient consultation ≥ 30 days before death. Metrics utilized to tabulate ACE scores were ICU admission, hospital admission, emergency room visit, death in an acute care setting, chemotherapy at the end of life, and hospice admission <3 days. Inpatient direct hospital costs were calculated for the last 30 days of life from accounting records. Data were analyzed using Fisher's Exact, Mann-Whitney U, Kaplan-Meier, and Student's T testing.

Results: 49% of patients had a palliative medicine consultation and 18% had timely consultation. Median ACE score for patients with timely palliative medicine consultation was 0 (range 0-3) versus 2 (range 0-6) p=0.025 for patients with untimely/no consultation. Median inpatient direct costs for the last 30 days of life were lower for patients with timely consultation, $0 (range 0-28,019) versus untimely, $7729 (0-52,720), p=0.01.

Conclusions: Timely palliative medicine consultation was associated with lower ACE scores and direct hospital costs. Prospective evaluation is needed to validate the impact of palliative medicine consultation on quality of life and healthcare costs.

Keywords: Aggressiveness of care; End of life care; Gynecologic malignancies; Hospital costs; Palliative medicine; Quality-of-life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / psychology
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / therapy*
  • Hospital Costs*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care*
  • Quality of Life
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Terminal Care*
  • Time Factors