Journal of Palliative Medicine vol:13 issue:11 pages:1365-1369
Abstract Background: In addition to the effectiveness of hospital care models for terminal patients, policy makers and health care payers are concerned about their costs. This study aims to measure the hospital costs of treating terminal patients in Belgium from the health care payer perspective. Also, this study compares the costs of palliative and usual care in different types of hospital wards. Methods: A multicenter, retrospective cohort study compared costs of palliative care with usual care in acute hospital wards and with care in palliative care units. The study enrolled terminal patients from a representative sample of hospitals. Health care costs included fixed hospital costs and charges relating to medical fees, pharmacy and other charges. Data sources consisted of hospital accountancy data and invoice data. Results: Six hospitals participated in the study, generating a total of 146 patients. The findings showed that palliative care in a palliative care unit was more expensive than palliative care in an acute ward due to higher staffing levels in palliative care units. Palliative care in an acute ward is cheaper than usual care in an acute ward. Conclusions: This study suggests that palliative care models in acute wards need to be supported because such care models appear to be less expensive than usual care and because such care models are likely to better reflect the needs of terminal patients. This finding emphasizes the importance of the timely recognition of the need for palliative care in terminal patients treated in acute wards.