Palliative Care Keeps Patients out of the E.R.: Study

Seniors in long-term care have seen less visits to the emergency room as well as a reduction in depression when receiving palliative care, notes a study from the Institute for Aging Research and Hebrew SeniorLife’s Hebrew Rehabilitation Center (HRC).

The incorporation of palliative services into long-term care settings, as demonstrated by the study’s results, could provide improved end-of-life quality of care for a number of aging Americans. 

Taking 250 long-term care patients at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, the study’s findings notes that half of the patients who received palliative care over a two-year period had about as half as many emergency room visits and significantly less depression than those who did not. 

“Many patients and families fear a painful, undignified death. The palliative care team is an elegant model that can improve care of long-term care residents and, at the same time bring down costs,” said Jody Comart, Ph.D. and palliative care director at Hebrew SeniorLife.

Palliative care services in long-term care settings can offer solace to both patients and families alike via an interdisciplinary team, which  includes a palliative care physician, clinical nurse specialist, chaplain, social worker and psychologist. 

Because end-of-life care often raises emotionally intense decisions about treatment options, palliative care can provide patients and their loved ones with not only medical information, but also help families find closure and reduce patients’ suffering in their final days. 

“This study showed a decrease in emergency room visits for palliative care patients, avoiding an often frightening event for patients and families, while decreasing the high cost of this expensive service for our health care system,” said Comart.

Written by Jason Oliva

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