Inpatient palliative care consultation has been demonstrated to improve quality of life as well as decrease hospital readmissions, intensive care unit transfers, and hospital costs for people with a life limiting illness. The clinical teaching units (CTUs) at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) routinely admit patients with noncurable cancer as well as end-stage heart, lung, liver, or kidney disease. However, the use of inpatient palliative care consultations for CTU patients remains unexamined. We conducted a descriptive study of all patients referred from LHSC CTU from both University and Victoria hospital to inpatient palliative care over a 1-year period from August 2013 to July 2014. The purpose of this study was to characterize the population and identify possible areas for quality improvement. In a 1-year period, 638 patients were referred from CTU to the inpatient palliative care consultation service. Of referrals, 55% died during their admission. Based on data collected, we conclude that many patients are referred early in their admission to CTU and patients are referred for a variety of noncancer diseases, suggesting knowledge and appreciation of the benefit of early palliative care consultation for malignant and nonmalignant disease. However, when further analyzed, there is indication that patients with noncancer diagnoses are referred statistically significantly later than those with a cancer diagnosis. The CTUs are sites of core medical training, and therefore, it is imperative that we model early integration of palliative care in order to continue to improve care of patients at end of life.
Journal of Palliative Care – SAGE
Published: Oct 1, 2018