Palliative Care Growing in California, Nationwide
About a quarter of California's 400 hospitals have formal palliative programs, a figure expected to grow as the practice gains popularity nationwide among medical providers and older patients, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports.
More than 2,800 physicians nationwide have completed training to become certified in palliative medicine, a practice focused on helping patients with serious illnesses manage complex symptoms, including pain, anxiety, agitation, nausea and depression.
Although hospice care usually includes palliative care, the practice is not exclusively for terminally ill patients. Patients expected to recover also can benefit from palliative care, according to the Tribune (Arnquist, San Luis Obispo Tribune, 5/8).
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the number of U.S. residents ages 65 and older will increase by 44% to 55 million by 2020, and an article published in the March issue of the Journal of Oncology Practice indicates that many of those individuals will require palliative care.
Since 2000, the number of medical centers that provide palliative care has increased to 1,240, or about 30% of hospitals, according to the Center to Advance Palliative Care.
A study conducted in 2003 found that hospitals can reduce costs by 57% when they move patients from regular departments to palliative care units (California Healthline, 4/26).