The Influence of Palliative Care in Hospital Length of Stay and the Timing of Consultation

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2022 Dec;39(12):1403-1409. doi: 10.1177/10499091211073328. Epub 2022 Jan 24.

Abstract

Background: Inpatient palliative care may reduce length-of-stay, costs, mortality, and prevent readmissions. Timing of consultation may influence outcomes. The aim of this study was to explore the timing of consultation and its influences patient outcomes.

Method: This retrospective study of hospital consultations between July 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019 compared patients seen within 72 hours of admission with those seen after 72 hours. Outcomes length of stay and mortality. Chi-square analyses for categorical variables and independent t-tests for continuous normally distributed variables were done. For nonparametrically distributed outcome variables, Wilcoxon rank sum test was used. For mortality, a time-to-event analysis was used. 30-day readmissions were assessed using the Fine-Gray sub-distribution hazard model. Multiple regression models were used, controlling for other variables.

Results: 696 patients were seen, 424 within 72 hours of admission. The average age was 73 and 50.6% were female. Consultation within 72 hours was not associated with a shorter stay for cancer but was for patients with non-cancer illnesses. Inpatient mortality and 30-days mortality were reduced but there was a higher 30-day readmission rate.

Discussion: Palliative consultations within 72 hours of admission was associated with lower hospital stays and inpatient mortality but increased the risk of readmission. Benefits were largely observed in patients followed in continuity.

Conclusion: Early inpatient palliative care consultation was associated with reduced hospital mortality, 30-day mortality and length of stay particularly if patients were seen by palliative care prior to hospitalization.

Keywords: length of stay; mortality; palliative; readmissions.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Palliative Care*
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Retrospective Studies