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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 89

of 'Benefits, services, and models of subspecialty palliative care'

Palliative care consultation service and palliative care unit: why do we need both?
Gaertner J, Frechen S, Sladek M, Ostgathe C, Voltz R
Oncologist. 2012;17(3):428-35. Epub 2012 Feb 21.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care (PC) infrastructure has developed differently around the globe. Whereas some institutions consider the palliative care unit (PCU) a valuable component, others report that the sole provision of a state-of-the art palliative care consultation service (PCCS) suffices to adequately care for the severely ill and dying.
OBJECTIVE: To aid institutional planning, this study aimed at gathering patient data to distinguish assignments of a concomitantly run PCU and PCCS at a large hospital and academic medical center.
METHODS: Demographics, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, symptom/problem burden, discharge modality, and team satisfaction with care for all 601 PCU and 851 PCCS patients treated in 2009 and 2010 were retrospectively analyzed.
RESULTS: Patients admitted to the PCU versus those consulted by the PCCS: (a) had a significantly worse performance status (odds ratio [OR], 1.48); (b) were significantly more likely to sufferfrom severe symptoms and psychosocial problems (OR, 2.05), in particular concerning physical suffering and complexity of care; and (c) were significantly much more likely to die during hospital stay (OR, 11.03). For patients who were dying or in other challenging clinical situations (suffering from various severe symptoms), self-rated team satisfaction was significantly higher for the PCU than the PCCS.
CONCLUSION: This study presents a direct comparison between patients in a PCU and a PCCS. Results strongly support the hypothesis that the coexistence of both institutions in one hospital contributes to the goal of ensuring optimal high-quality PC for patients in complex and challenging clinical situations.
Department of Palliative Care, University Hospital Cologne, 50924 Cologne, Germany. jan.gaertner@uk-koeln.de