Hospital palliative care programs continue rapid growth

New data show fifth consecutive annual increase

New York, NY -- Hospitals continue to implement palliative care programs at a rapid pace, according to a Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) analysis of the latest data released in the 2006 American Hospital Association (AHA) Annual Survey of Hospitals. The CAPC analysis shows that 1240 hospitals nationwide provide palliative care programs today. This is compared to 632 programs in 2000–a five-year increase of 96%.

Palliative medicine is interdisciplinary care aimed at the relief of the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness. The goal is to ensure the highest quality of life possible for patients and their families. Palliative medicine treats serious illness regardless of prognosis, and patients can receive it at any point in their illness, with or without curative treatment.

"Ten years ago there were almost no hospital palliative care programs in the U.S. This continuous growth trend is very good news because if we are going to meet the needs of our aging population, every hospital must have a program." said Dr. Diane Meier, Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care.

Of the 4,103 hospitals appropriate for palliative care programs (psychiatric and rehab hospitals are excluded):

  • 30% have a program
  • 50% with over 75 beds have a program
  • 70% with over 250 beds have a program
  • 57% of hospitals with a cancer program approved by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) have a program
  • 75% of Council of Teaching Hospitals (COTH) members have a program
  • 46% of hospitals in cities with a population of 1-2.5 million have a program

Larger hospitals, academic medical centers, not-for-profit hospitals (including those affiliated with the Catholic Church) and VA hospitals are significantly more likely to develop palliative care programs as compared to for-profit hospitals.

By 2030, it is expected that the number of older Americans will have more than doubled to 70 million — or one in every five Americans. With the availability of advanced medical technologies this growing number of older adults will live longer, but often with serious chronic illnesses and ongoing pain and symptoms.

Palliative medicine is widely viewed as a solution to this mounting problem.

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Embargoed for Release: December 7, 2006

The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) provides health care professionals with the tools, training and technical assistance necessary to start and sustain successful palliative care programs in hospitals and other health care settings. Located in New York City, CAPC is a national organization dedicated to increasing the availability of quality palliative care services for people facing serious illness. Direction and technical assistance is provided by Mount Sinai School of Medicine. www.capc.org


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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