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. METHODS: 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. RESULTS: 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. CONCLUSIONS: 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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