NEW YORK, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Vermont, Montana and New Hampshire are the best states for those most seriously ill to get palliative care, officials of a watchdog group said.
The report, "America's Care of Serious Illness: A State-by-State Report Card on Palliative Care in Our Nation's Hospitals," said three states -- Oklahoma, Alabama and Mississippi -- got an F.
Palliative care programs make patients facing serious and chronic illness more comfortable by alleviating their pain and symptoms and counseling patients and their families.
Study senior author Dr. R. Sean Morrison, director of the non-profit National Palliative Care Research Center, said the study suggests that in states with more palliative care programs, patients are less likely to die in the hospital; don't have to go to the intensive care unit as much in the last six months of life; and spend fewer days in intensive care or the coronary unit in their last six months.
"The good news is that hospitals nationwide have implemented palliative care programs quickly over the last six years," Morrison said in a statement. "The bad news is that if you live in the South or you have to rely on public or small community hospitals, you're in trouble."
The findings are published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine.