Thursday, August 19, 2010

Research Confirms Many Live Longer with Hospice and Palliative Care

Higher Quality of Life Reported By Palliative Care Patients, Study Reports

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that among patients with non-small-cell lung cancer, those who received palliative care lived, on average, almost two months longer than those who received standard care. Researchers also found that the patients receiving palliative care reported a higher quality of life through the final course of their illness.

They also found that when patients received palliative care services, they were more likely to elect hospice services. "With earlier referral to a hospice program, patients may receive care that results in better management of symptoms, leading to stabilization of their condition and prolonged survival," wrote the authors of the study released August 18, 2010. 

Pathways Provides Palliative Care

Pathways has a unique and vibrant Palliative Care program that is provided through Home Health. The criteria are that the patient has a prognosis of 12 months or less, has a skilled need (such as symptom management), and that he or she finds leaving home a considerable and taxing effort. (Patients may occasionally visit the barber, attend a special event, go for a drive or attend religious services and still be considered homebound, thus meeting the CMS criteria.) Patients may be receiving active, curative treatment simultaneously with Palliative Care. 

“There’s an inaccurate perception among the American public that hospice means you’ve given up,” said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. “Those of us who have worked in the field have seen firsthand how hospice and palliative care can improve the quality of and indeed prolong the lives of people receiving care.” Schumacher added that “The time to learn about these services is before a person is in a medical crisis. Patients and families must learn about these options of care as soon as possible.” 

A Growing Body of Evidence

A 2004 study found patients with 16 of the most common terminal diagnoses lived around 20 days (Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, September 2004). In 2007 a study of 4,493 patients found patients lived an average 29 days longer with hospice (JPSM, March 2007). This latest study adds to the body of evidence showing that many patients live longer with hospice and palliative care, and as a rule both patients and surviving families report better quality of life.