Background: Inpatient palliative care consultations have been shown to reduce acute care utilization by reducing length of stay, but less is known about their impact on subsequent costs including hospital readmissions.
Objective: The study's objective was to examine the impact of inpatient palliative care consultations on 30-day hospital readmissions to a large urban academic medical center.
Methods: The hospital's electronic medical record system was used to identify all live discharges between August 2013 and November 2014. After adjusting for a propensity score, readmission rates were compared between palliative care and usual care groups.
Results: Of the 34,541 hospitalizations included in the study, 1430 (4.1%) involved a palliative care consult. After adjusting for the propensity score, patients seen by palliative care had a lower 30-day readmission rate-adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 0.66, 0.55-0.78; p<0.001. Adjusted rates were 10.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] 8.9%-12.0%) for palliative care and 15.0% (95% CI 14.4%-15.4%) for usual care. Among all palliative care patients, consultations that involved goals of care discussions were associated with a lower readmission rate (AOR 0.36, 0.27-0.48; p<0.001), but consultations involving symptom management were not (AOR 1.05, 0.82-1.35; p=0.684).
Conclusions: Palliative care palliative care consultations facilitate goals discussions, which in turn are associated with reduced rates of 30-day readmissions.