Health Services Research & Development

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Chettiar A, Montez-Rath M, Liu S, Hall YN, O'Hare AM, Kurella Tamura M. Association of Inpatient Palliative Care with Health Care Utilization and Postdischarge Outcomes among Medicare Beneficiaries with End Stage Kidney Disease. Clinical journal of the American Society of Nephrology : CJASN. 2018 Aug 7; 13(8):1180-1187.
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Abstract: BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Palliative care may improve quality of life and reduce the cost of care for patients with chronic illness, but utilization and cost implications of palliative care in ESKD have not been evaluated. We sought to determine the association of inpatient palliative care with health care utilization and postdischarge outcomes in ESKD. DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS, & MEASUREMENTS: In analyses stratified by whether patients died during the index hospitalization, we identified Medicare beneficiaries with ESKD who received inpatient palliative care, ascertained by provider specialty codes, between 2012 and 2013. These patients were matched to hospitalized patients who received usual care using propensity scores. Primary outcomes were length of stay and hospitalization costs. Secondary outcomes were 30-day readmission and hospice enrollment. RESULTS: Inpatient palliative care occurred in <1% of hospitalizations lasting >2 days. Among the decedent cohort (=1308), inpatient palliative care was associated with a 21% shorter length of stay (-4.2 days; 95% confidence interval, -5.6 to -2.9 days) and 14% lower hospitalization costs (-$10,698; 95% confidence interval, -$17,553 to -$3843) compared with usual care. Among the nondecedent cohort (=5024), inpatient palliative care was associated with no difference in length of stay (0.4 days; 95% confidence interval, -0.3 to 1.0 days) and 11% higher hospitalization costs ($4275; 95% confidence interval, $1984 to $6567) compared with usual care. In the 30-day postdischarge period, patients who received inpatient palliative care had higher likelihood of hospice enrollment (hazard ratio, 8.3; 95% confidence interval, 6.6 to 10.5) and lower likelihood of rehospitalization (hazard ratio, 0.8; 95% confidence interval, 0.7 to 0.9). CONCLUSIONS: Among patients with ESKD who died in the hospital, inpatient palliative care was associated with shorter hospitalizations and lower costs. Among those who survived to discharge, inpatient palliative care was associated with no difference in length of stay and higher hospitalization costs but markedly higher hospice use and fewer readmissions after discharge.