Palliative Care for Inmates in the Hospital Setting

Stephanie L. Stephens, J. Brian Cassel, Danielle Noreika, Egidio Del Fabbro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The US population of inmates continues to increase along with a rapid escalation in the number of elderly prisoners. Previous studies have demonstrated multiple barriers to providing palliative care for seriously ill inmates. The aim of this study was to assess the frequency of palliative care consultation and nature of consultation requests for inmates who died while hospitalized at a large tertiary care hospital. A retrospective chart review of all inmate decedents over a 10-year time period was conducted. The reason and timing of consultation was noted in addition to symptoms identified and interventions recommended by the palliative care team. Characteristics of patients who were transferred to the inpatient palliative care unit were also recorded. Forty-five percent of inmates were seen by palliative care prior to their death. Timing of consultation was close to the day of death. Inmates with cancer were significantly more likely to have a palliative care consultation prior to death. The most frequent intervention recommended was opiates for pain or dyspnea. Delirium was often missed by the primary team but was identified by the palliative care team. Nearly, 5000 prisoners die each year, mostly in community hospitals. These patients exhibit similar symptoms to free-living patients. Given that the inmate population has a higher rate of comorbid conditions, there is a need for more research to identify areas of need for incarcerated patients and where palliative care can best serve these individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-325
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer
  • delirium
  • end of life
  • palliative care
  • prisoners

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Palliative Care for Inmates in the Hospital Setting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this