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Perm J. 2011 Spring;15(2):48-51.

Inpatient palliative care consults and the probability of hospital readmission.

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  • 1South Bay MedicalCenter in Harbor City, CA, USA. craig.m.nelson@kp.org



Many patients and their families have difficulty making decisions when confronted with complex medical problems. Often their expectations and hopes are beyond what medical science can deliver, and at times their desires seem to conflict with their treatment plans. Additionally, costly tests and treatments with little or no benefit are often explored. Inpatient palliative care consultation services for end-of-life-care planning can help patients navigate this complexity, arrive at a care plan consistent with their personal values, and be good stewards of precious medical resources.


We conducted a study to assess the effect that one function of our organization's Inpatient Palliative Care Service-consultation regarding end-of-life-care planning-has on readmission rates. We believed that our study would show that interdisciplinary end-of-life-care planning improves resource use by reducing the probability and rate of hospital readmission.


We retrospectively reviewed electronic records for Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect at Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center in Harbor City, CA, for 200 consecutive patients referred to our Inpatient Palliative Care Service between November 2006 and February 2010, comparing hospital readmissions between two groups of patients. Members of both groups (100 patients in each) all had an Inpatient Palliative Care consult ordered for end-of-life-care planning; members of group A were seen solely by an inpatient palliative care registered nurse (RN), whereas members of group B were seen by an interdisciplinary team consisting of a physician, a bioethicist, a social worker, an RN, and a hospital chaplain.


We found that with the post-team consultation, readmissions to the hospital per patient per six months after consultation decreased from 1.15 to 0.7 admissions per patient.

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