Palliative care continues to be one of the fastest-growing specialties in medicine. A recent Associated Press article reports that the number of hospitals with palliative care teams has grown from 658 in 2000 to 1,568 in 2009. The Center to Advance Palliative Care says that nearly 63% of all hospitals in the United States have some form of palliative care. Palliative care programs typically include multidisciplinary teams (physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, and chaplains) who frequently meet with patients that are diagnosed with a serious condition. During those meetings, the patient expresses his or her health goals and philosophies to the team who then advises the patient on the best care plan. Unlike hospice programs, palliative care is not reserved for patients with a terminal illness who are seeking comfort. There are a number of reasons for the rise in palliative care. Perhaps the most important is that patients typically give the programs positive reviews. They appreciate that palliative care team takes the time to get to know them as a person, not a diagnosis. However, another important driving force behind the surge in palliative care programs is the new generation of young doctors who are choosing to pursue palliative care careers. About 12% of the physicians certified in hospice and palliative care are under the age of 26, according to the American Board of Medical Specialties. Hospitals are divided on the issue. On one hand, palliative care patients can sometimes opt out of high-cost procedures in favor of less-expensive, low-risk options. On the other hand, palliative care can help hospitals improve throughput. Patients who receive palliative care are typically discharged sooner, which means they spend less time occupying a valuable bed. Furthermore, a recent post on The New York Times “The New Old Age” blog states elderly individuals who are enrolled in hospice programs are far less likely to visit the ED. The post states only 10% of elderly individuals who are enrolled in a hospice program visit the ED within a month of their death, compared with 56% of those who are not in hospice. Hospitals that have a palliative care department willing to have end of life discussions with patients will see more elderly individuals enrolled in hospice care and fewer visiting the ED. In any event, it’s apparent that palliative care is on the rise, and hospitals, patients, and doctors should take note.