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American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Leader Touts Quality, Cost Benefits of Palliative Care for Healthcare Reform
Date:6/15/2009

GLENVIEW, Ill., June 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The role palliative care can play in improving healthcare quality and achieving cost savings was addressed by R. Sean Morrison, MD, president-elect of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), who spoke at a briefing on healthcare reform in the Capitol today.

Morrison, director of the National Palliative Care Research Center, said policymakers should ensure that efforts to reform the health care system address current disparities in access to palliative care and the scarcity of funding to support needed research that could provide the evidence base to guide clinical care and care delivery. Public and professional education are also lacking, he said.

Palliative care is the interdisciplinary specialty that focuses on improving quality of life for patients with advanced illness and for their families through relieving pain and other distressing symptoms, care coordination and informed decision making. Palliative care is provided alongside all other appropriate disease-directed treatments.

At the briefing hosted by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Catholic Health Association of the United States and U.S. Representatives Steve Israel and Lois Capps, Morrison presented findings from a first-of-its-kind study evaluating the effect of palliative care on U.S. hospital costs, using data from eight diverse hospitals.

"In addition to improved clinical care and patient and family satisfaction, hospital palliative care programs deliver significant cost savings," stated Morrison, a professor of geriatrics and medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Compared to usual care, palliative care consultation was shown to save $174 per day or $1,696 per admission for patients discharged alive and $374 per day or $4,908 per admission for patients who die in hospital.

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SOURCE American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
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