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Availability of Palliative Care in Long-Term Acute Care Hospitals.



To determine the availability of palliative care programs in long-term acute care hospitals (LTACHs) DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis using the 2016 American Hospital Association (AHA) Annual Survey.

Setting and participants

LTACHs in the United States.


We used descriptive analyses to compare the prevalence of palliative care programs in LTACHs across the United States in 2016. For LTACHs without a program, we also examined palliative care physician capacity in regions where those LTACHs resided to evaluate if expertise existed in those regions.


One-third (36.5%) of 405 LTACHs (50.6% response rate) self-reported having a palliative care program. Among LTACHs without palliative care, 42.4% were in regions with the highest palliative care physician capacity nationwide.

Conclusions and implications

LTACHs care for patients with serious and prolonged illnesses, many of whom would benefit from palliative care. Despite this, our study finds that specialty palliative care is limited in LTACHs. The limited palliative care availability in LTACHs is mismatched with the needs of this seriously ill population. Greater focus on increasing palliative care in LTACHs is essential and may be feasible as 40% of LTACHs without a palliative care program were located in regions with the highest palliative care physician capacity.

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