Access to Palliative Care Consultation for Hospitalized Adults with COVID-19 in an Urban Health System: Were There Disparities at the Peak of the Pandemic?

Journal of Palliative Medicine
Julia L FrydmanLaura P Gelfman

Abstract

Background: Palliative care (PC) services expanded rapidly to meet the needs of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients, yet little is known about which patients were referred for PC consultation during the pandemic. Objective: Examine factors predictive of PC consultation for COVID-19 patients. Design: Retrospective cohort study of COVID-19 patients discharged from four hospitals (March 1-June 30, 2020). Exposures: Patient demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical factors and hospital-level characteristics. Outcome Measurement: Inpatient PC consultation. Results: Of 4319 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 581 (14%) received PC consultation. Increasing age, serious illness (cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and dementia), greater illness severity, and admission to the quaternary hospital were associated with receipt of PC consultation. There was no association between PC consultation and race/ethnicity, household crowding, insurance status, or hospital-factors, including inpatient, emergency department, and intensive care unit census. Conclusions: Although site variation existed, the highest acuity patients were most likely to receive PC consultation without racial/ethnic or socioeconomic disparities.

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