Relationship Between Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Palliative Care Consultations, and Hospital Length of Stay

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Physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) treatment utilization in palliative care (PC) is not well documented. This study analyzed which hospitalized patients have received an order for a PC consultation and also received an order for PT or OT during that admission and described the patients most likely to have these services ordered.


Palliative care orders were examined retrospectively for presence or absence of PT/OT orders in the context of primary PC diagnoses, age, and length of stay (LOS).


Of the 824 unique patients, 681 patients (83%) received at least 1 order for PT while 615 patients (75%) received at least 1 order for OT. Palliative care patients who received orders for PT and OT (9.7 days) and PT and/or OT (9.3 days) had a longer LOS (P < .0001) compared with those who did not receive either PT or OT (5.0 days).


A large percentage of patients who received PC consultations also received PT and/or OT orders, and most of the time therapy was ordered before PC. On the basis of these findings, ordering providers may be consulting PT/OT to assist with discharge planning for medically complex patients with a longer anticipated LOS.

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