21 Oct, 11 | by BMJ Group
A new study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that over the last decade the number of hospital admissions for palliative care services has increased by over 50%.
This news was well received by Palliative Care Australia (PCA), an organisation which promotes the provision of quality end of life care. Dr Yvonne Luxford, PCA Chief Executive said “This is a fantastic indicator that our hospital system is gaining an understanding of the need to refer people to palliative care. What we need to make sure, however, is that people are receiving high quality care, and one way to do this is by ensuring that education about palliative and end of life care is a standard provision for all health professionals.”
Maintaining quality of care is especially important in light of the study’s other main finding – that the average length of hospital stay for palliative care patients in Australia is 12.5 days – almost four times longer than the average for all admissions (3.2 days). With palliative care provision and utilisation on the rise, more funding may well be needed to keep care quality at a premium.
The study also showed that people with cancer are overwhelmingly referred to palliative care (69% of cancer patients in the study), but that only 21% of individuals suffering from heart failure and 20% from COPD were admitted to palliative care services, highlighting a discrepancy in the types of serious illness which are considered to benefit from palliation.
Read the full report here.