Early palliative care on an inpatient oncology unit: Impact of a novel co-rounding partnership on patient and health system outcomes.
3 Background: Early palliative care (PC) improves outcomes for outpatients with advanced cancer, but its impact on an inpatient oncology unit is unknown. We implemented a novel inpatient medical oncology (ONC) and PC co-rounding partnership on September 1, 2011 at Duke University Hospital. Here we report its impact on patient and health system outcomes during its first year of implementation.We extracted patient data including demographics, cancer diagnosis, disease status, length of stay (LOS), ICU transfer rate, discharge disposition, time to ER return, time to readmission, and 7- and 30-day ER return and readmission rates (RR). Pre- and post-intervention cohorts were defined as all patients admitted or transferred to the solid tumor inpatient service from September 1, 2009-June 30, 2010 and September 1, 2011-June 30, 2012, respectively. Nursing and physician surveys assessed satisfaction. We used descriptive statistics, Student's t-test, and Fisher's exact test for analyses.The pre- and post-intervention analysis cohorts included 731 and 783 patients respectively, representing 2,353 encounters. Cohorts were similar in baseline characteristics, including mean age (61 vs. 62; p=0.07), gender (male: 51% vs. 48%; p=0.22), race (white: 68% vs. 71%; p=0.39), insurance coverage (Medicare: 49% vs. 51%; p=0.96), and disease status (recurrent/metastatic: 73% vs. 74%; p=0.6). Post-intervention patients had a statistically significant decrease in mean LOS (p=0.02) from 4.51 days (95% CI 4.3-4.73) to 4.17 days (95% CI 3.97-4.37), and statistically significant improvements in 7- and 30-day readmission rates, representing a 15% (p=0.03) and 23% (p=0.05) improvement, respectively. We observed a trend for increasing hospice referral (p=0.09) and a 15% decrease in ICU transfers. Physicians and nurses universally favored the model.A fully-integrated, inpatient co-rounding partnership between PC and ONC resulted in statistically significant improvements in key health system-related outcomes and indicators of quality cancer care.
Slusser, K; Power, S; Jones, CA; LeBlanc, TW; Kamal, A; Desai, D; Allen, D; Galanos, AN
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