A month in an acute palliative care unit: Clinical interventions and financial outcomes

Ahmed Elsayem, Bianca B. Calderon, Eden M. Camarines, Gabriel Lopez, Eduardo Bruera, Nada A. Fadul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Few cancer centers have developed acute palliative care units (APCUs). The purpose of this study is to highlight clinical interventions and financial outcomes during a typical 1-month period on an APCU. Methods: We evaluated consecutive patients admitted to our APCU from February 1 to 28, 2009, regarding demographic information, sources of and reasons for admissions, resuscitation status, clinical interventions, disposition, and reimbursement data. Results: Forty-two patients were admitted during a 1-month period. Of these, 30 (71%) were referred from the inpatient palliative care consultation team. In all, 10 (24%) patients had a full code status on admission, and 8 had their status changed to do not resuscitate (DNR) prior to discharge. A total of 11 (26%) patients were discharged home with hospice care, 12 (29%) died on the APCU, and 10 (24%) were discharged home with outpatient follow-up visits. All patients received intravenous medications and the majority received intravenous antibiotics. All patients met acute care criteria for hospitalization, and financial reimbursement was satisfactory and comparable to that of other oncology patients. Conclusion: The APCU model is designed for the care of very complex advanced cancer patients. Palliative interventions are given simultaneously with other medical interventions. The APCU is labor intensive and well reimbursed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)550-555
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • acute model
  • acute palliative care unit
  • APCU
  • clinical interventions
  • palliative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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