The aim of this retrospective study was to investigate the association of palliative medicine consultation with inpatient hospital costs and ACE (aggressiveness of care at the end of life) scores in patients with gynecologic malignancies. Data were obtained from inpatient and outpatient medical records of 100 consecutive patients who died of primary gynecologic malignancies at a single institution. Timely consultation for palliative care was defined as exposure to inpatient consultation for 30 days or more before death. Metrics used to tabulate ACE scores included the following: admission to intensive care, emergency room visit, death in an acute care setting, chemotherapy at the end of life, and hospice admission less than 3 days before death. Hospital accounting records were used to calculate inpatient direct costs for the last 30 days of life. Statistical methods included Fisher exact and Student t testing, Mann-Whitney U testing, and Kaplan-Meier statistics.
Of the total patient sample, 49% (n = 49) had a palliative care consultation, and 18% (n = 18) had timely consultation. The median composite ACE score was significantly lower for patients with timely palliative medicine consultation (≥30 days before death) than for patients with untimely/no consultation: 0 (range, 0–3) versus 2 (range, 0–6), P = 0.025. Median inpatient direct costs were lower for the last 30 days of life among patients with timely consultation than those with untimely consultation: $0 (range, $0–$28,019) versus $7729 ($0–$52,720), P = 0.01.
These data show that timely palliative medicine consultation reduced inpatient direct hospital costs and lowered ACE scores. Prospective studies are needed to validate these findings.