A new study indicates that hospitals with specialized units combining the compassionate care of hospice and the level of care offered in med/surg units may provide efficient, cost-effective assistance to patients with advanced chronic illness or terminal disease, according to a news release.
The study was published in the American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine and done at Montefiore Medical Center.
Acute palliative care units are really a new frontier in managing patients with end-stage chronic disease, study co-author Marlene McHugh, RN, DNP, said in the release. In an APCU, patients receive acute and palliative care regardless of prognosis, the technology required to keep a patient alive, or end-of-life wishes. In addition, these units are primarily managed by palliative medicine specialists, working with medical management.
According to the release, McHugh, assistant professor of clinical nursing at Columbia University School of Nursing, Manhattan, and associate director of palliative care at Montefiore, is one of the first NPs in New York City to move palliative care into the acute care hospital setting.
We are creating the future by bringing palliative care units within hospital walls, said co-author Serife Eti, MD, director of the fellowship program in palliative medicine, department of pain medicine and palliative care at Beth Israel Medical Center, Brooklyn. Consequently, going forward, nurses and medical personnel will need specialized palliative care training to assist patients with chronic, advanced and terminal illness in APCUs.
The release said establishing APCUs allows patients to leave the ICU and still receive a high level of care focusing on patients values and treatment preferences, as well as support for their family members.
The study, conducted from 2007 to 2010, suggests potential cost benefits can be achieved by managing terminally ill patients in APCUs, and that these benefits are more likely to occur when patients are directly managed by palliative care specialists.