Palliative Care Specialist Access is Associated With Rankings of Hospital Quality



      Increasing evidence has shown that access to specialty palliative care, particularly outpatient palliative care clinics, can yield improved health outcomes and be a marker of hospital quality.


      To determine whether an association exists between access to specialty palliative care programs and hospital rankings found in the 2020-2021 U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals.


      This study used publicly available data from the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) Provider Directory to determine access to in-patient and out-patient palliative care in the 2020-2021 U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals Rankings. Descriptive statistics and chi-squares were performed. Data were also analyzed across the four U.S. Census Bureau regions (Northeast, South, Midwest, West).


      Around 100% of the Top 20 hospitals include hospital-based palliative care consultation teams, and 95% offered outpatient palliative care. Of the second cohort of 83 hospitals, 99% offered inpatient palliative care, and 65% offered outpatient palliative care. Of the third cohort of 75 hospitals ranked, 96% had inpatient palliative care services, while only 41.3% offered outpatient palliative care. This represents a significant association between rank position and access to outpatient palliative care (P < 0.01). Ranked hospitals also have significantly higher access to hospital-based palliative care teams compared to the national prevalence rate (P < 0.01).


      These findings reflect the association of access to specialty palliative care with USNWR rankings for hospital quality. Further study is necessary to determine the specific influence of access to palliative care and USNWR rank position.

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