FRIDAY, Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Very few U.S. states offer top-quality palliative care to patients with chronic illness, and the quality of care varies widely from state to state, according to a paper published in the October issue of the Journal of Palliative Medicine.
Benjamin Goldsmith, of the National Palliative Care Research Center in New York City, and colleagues write that 90 million Americans are living with cancer, heart disease, Parkinson's disease and other serious illnesses, and that palliative care programs not only alleviate pain for patients with serious and chronic illness but also offer support and counseling to them and their families.
Overall, the United States scores a C grade for the quality of its palliative care services, with only three states -- Vermont, Montana and New Hampshire -- scoring an A, the researchers report. Patients living in the South and those who rely on public or small community hospitals get the worst palliative care, the report found. Overall, Midwestern states offer the best services.
"Focused efforts by hospital administrations, the health care community and policymakers are required to promote the development of quality palliative care programs in all hospitals," the authors write. "This will result in a more efficient and effective use of hospital resources, and will enhance the quality of care delivered to our nation's most seriously ill patients and their families."