75% of Nation’s Hospitals Lack Palliative Care Teams

Only 25% of the nation’s hospitals have a fully staffed paid palliative care team that meets Joint Commission guidelines, according to a study in Health Affairs. Such teams help patients managed pain and make end-of-life decisions. The teams include a doctor, nurse, social worker, and chaplain. Data collected from 410 hospitals in 2012 and 2013 show just how neglected a part of the hospital system palliative care teams are.

“Larger palliative care programs were more likely than smaller ones to include a funded physician position, while smaller programs were more reliant upon advanced practice and registered nurses,” the study states. “To meet current and future palliative care needs, expanded and enhanced education, as well as supportive financing mechanisms for consultations, are needed.”