To investigate the use of palliative care (PC) in patients with end-stage COPD receiving home oxygen hospitalized for an exacerbation.
A retrospective nationwide cohort analysis was performed, using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample. All patients ≥ 18 years of age with a diagnosis of COPD, receiving home oxygen, and admitted for an exacerbation were included.
A total of 55,208,382 hospitalizations from the 2006-2012 Nationwide Inpatient Sample were examined. There were 181,689 patients with COPD, receiving home oxygen, and admitted for an exacerbation; 3,145 patients (1.7%) also had a PC contact. There was a 4.5-fold relative increase in PC referral from 2006 (0.45%) to 2012 (2.56%) (P < .01). Patients receiving PC consultations compared with those who did not were older (75.0 years [SD 10.9] vs 70.6 years [SD 9.7]; P < .01), had longer hospitalizations (4.9 days [interquartile range, 2.6-8.2] vs 3.5 days [interquartile range, 2.1-5.6]), and more likely to die in hospital (32.1% vs 1.5%; P < .01). Race was significantly associated with referral to palliative care, with white patients referred more often than minorities (P < .01). Factors associated with PC referral included age (OR, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.02-1.04; P < .01), metastatic cancer (OR, 2.40; 95% CI, 2.02-2.87; P < .01), nonmetastatic cancer (OR, 2.75; 95% CI, 2.43-3.11; P < .01), invasive mechanical ventilation (OR, 4.89; 95% CI, 4.31-5.55; P < .01), noninvasive mechanical ventilation (OR, 2.84; 95% CI, 2.58-3.12; P < .01), and Do Not Resuscitate status (OR, 7.95; 95% CI, 7.29-8.67; P < .01).
The use of PC increased dramatically during the study period; however, PC contact occurs only in a minority of patients with end-stage COPD admitted with an exacerbation.