Early Palliative Care for Patients With Brain Metastases Decreases Inpatient Admissions and Need for Imaging Studies

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Background:Early encounters with palliative care (PC) can influence health-care utilization, clinical outcome, and cost.Aim:To study the effect of timing of PC encounters on brain metastasis patients at an academic medical center.Setting/Participants:All patients diagnosed with brain metastases from January 2013 to August 2015 at a single institution with inpatient and/or outpatient PC records available for review (N = 145).Design:Early PC was defined as having a PC encounter within 8 weeks of diagnosis with brain metastases; late PC was defined as having PC after 8 weeks of diagnosis. Propensity score matched cohorts of early (n = 46) and late (n = 46) PC patients were compared to control for differences in age, gender, and Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) at diagnosis. Details of the palliative encounter, patient outcomes, and health-care utilization were collected.Results:Early PC versus late PC patients had no differences in baseline KPS, age, or gender. Early PC patients had significantly fewer number of inpatient visits per patient (1.5 vs 2.9; P = .004), emergency department visits (1.2 vs 2.1; P = .006), positron emission tomography/computed tomography studies (1.2 vs 2.7, P = .005), magnetic resonance imaging scans (5.8 vs 8.1; P = .03), and radiosurgery procedures (0.6 vs 1.3; P < .001). There were no differences in overall survival (median 8.2 vs 11.2 months; P = .2). Following inpatient admissions, early PC patients were more likely to be discharged home (59% vs 35%; P = .04).Conclusions:Timely PC consultations are advisable in this patient population and can reduce health-care utilization.

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