FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- Hospitals across the country are embracing the emerging field of palliative care.
Palliative programs focus on treating pain, minimizing side effects and coordinating care for seriously ill patients.
They've been around for a few decades, but have widely spread in recent years. The number has more than doubled in the last decade, from nearly 700 in 2000 to more than 1,500 in 2009.
The programs have gained new traction with studies showing palliative patients living longer, in less pain, happier and more mobile than those who don't get such care. But they've also garnered interest from hospitals for potentially helping their bottom lines, by reducing the length of hospitalizations and potentially freeing beds for other paying customers.