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Most Hospital Palliative Care Programs Are Understaffed

By Kaiser Health News  
   September 30, 2016

An analysis of palliative care programs found that only 25 percent funded teams that included a physician, an advanced practice or registered nurse, a social worker and a chaplain, the four positions that are recommended by The Joint Commission.

This article first appeared September 30, 2016 on Kaiser Health News.

By Michelle Andrews

Most hospitals offer palliative care services that help people with serious illnesses manage their pain and other symptoms and make decisions about their treatment, while providing emotional support and assistance in navigating the health system. But hospital programs vary widely, and the majority fail to provide adequate staff to meet national guidelines, a recent study found.

A growing body of research has shown that palliative care can improve the quality of life for patients with serious illnesses and complex, long-term needs. In one study, patients with advanced cancer who had discussions with their doctor about their wishes were less likely to die in the intensive care unit, be put on a ventilator or have cardiopulmonary resuscitation, for example.

Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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