Cover: Does Integration of Palliative Care and Infection Management Reduce Hospital Transfers Among Nursing Home Residents?

Does Integration of Palliative Care and Infection Management Reduce Hospital Transfers Among Nursing Home Residents?

Published in: Journal of Palliative Medicine, Volume 24, No. 9, pages 1334-1341 (September 2021). doi: 10.1089/jpm.2020.0577

Posted on rand.org Apr 11, 2023

by Jordan M. Harrison, Mansi Agarwal, Patricia Stone, Tadeja Gracner, Mark J. Sorbero, Andrew W. Dick

An estimated 50% of nursing home (NH) residents experience hospital transfers in their last year of life, often due to infections. Hospital transfers due to infection are often of little clinical benefit to residents with advanced illness, for whom aggressive treatments are often ineffective and inconsistent with goals of care. Integration of palliative care and infection management (i.e., merging the goals of palliative care and infection management at end of life) may reduce hospital transfers for residents with advanced illness.

Objectives

Evaluate the association between integration and (1) all-cause hospital transfers and (2) hospital transfers due to infection.

Design

Cross-sectional observational study.

Setting/Subjects

143,223 U.S. NH residents, including 42,761 residents in the advanced stages of dementia, congestive heart failure (CHF), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Measurement

Cross-sectional, nationally representative NH survey data (2017-2018) were combined with resident data from the Minimum Data Set 3.0 and Medicare inpatient data (2016-2017). NH surveys measured integration of palliative care and infection management using an index of 0-100. Logistic regression models were used to estimate the relationships between integration intensity (i.e., the degree to which NHs follow best practices for integration) and all-cause hospital transfer and transfer due to infection.

Results

Among residents with advanced dementia, integration intensity was inversely associated with all-cause hospital transfer and transfer due to infection (p<0.001). Among residents with advanced COPD, integration intensity was inversely associated with all-cause hospital transfer (p<0.05) but not transfers due to infection. Among residents with advanced CHF, integration intensity was not associated with either outcome.

Conclusions

NH policies aimed to promote integration of palliative care and infection management may reduce burdensome hospital transfers for residents with advanced dementia. For residents with advanced CHF and COPD, alternative strategies may be needed to promote best practices for infection management at end of life.

Research conducted by

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