National Trends (2009–2013) for Palliative Care Utilization for Patients Receiving Prolonged Mechanical Ventilation*

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Objectives:Patients requiring mechanical ventilation have high morbidity and mortality. Providing palliative care services has been suggested as a way to improve comprehensive management of critically ill patients. We examined the trend in the utilization of palliative care among adults who require prolonged mechanical ventilation. Primary objectives were to determine the trend in palliative care utilization over time, predictors for palliative care utilization, and palliative care impact on hospital length of stay.Design:Retrospective, cross-sectional study.Setting:The National Inpatient Sample data between 2009 and 2013 was used for this study.Patients:Adults (age ≥ 18 yr) who underwent prolonged mechanical ventilation (≥ 96 consecutive hr) were studied.Measurements and Main Results:Palliative care and mechanical ventilation were identified using the corresponding International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision, Clinical Modification, codes. A total of 1,751,870 hospitalizations with prolonged mechanical ventilation were identified between 2009 and 2013. The utilization of palliative care increased yearly from 6.5% in 2009 to 13.1% in 2013 (p < 0.001). Among the mechanically ventilated patients who died, palliative care increased from 15.9% in 2009 to 33.3% in 2013 (p < 0.001). Median hospital length of stay for patients with and without palliative care was 13 and 17 days, respectively (p < 0.001). Patients discharged to either short- or long-term care facilities had a shorter length of stay if palliative care was provided (15 vs 19 d; p < 0.001). The factors associated with a higher palliative care utilization included older age, malignancy, larger hospitals in urban areas, and teaching hospitals. Non-Caucasian race was associated with lower palliative care utilization.Conclusions:Among patients who undergo prolonged mechanical ventilation, palliative care utilization is increasing, particularly in patients who die during hospitalization. Using palliative care for mechanically ventilated patients who are discharged to either short- or long-term care facilities is associated with a shorter hospital length of stay.

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