Background: Despite evidence showing that goals of care (GOC) conversations increase the likelihood that patients facing a serious illness receive care that is concordant with their wishes, only a minority of at-risk patients receive the opportunity to engage in such conversations.
Objective: The Preventing Readmissions through Effective Partnerships—Communication and Palliative Care (PREP-CPC) intervention was designed to increase the frequency of GOC conversations for hospitalized patients facing serious illness.
Methods: The PREP-CPC employed a sequential, multicohort design using a yearlong mentored implementation approach to support nonpalliative care health-care professionals at participating hospitals to implement quality improvement projects focused on GOC conversations.
Results: Over the 3-year study period, 134 clinicians from 29 hospital teams were trained to facilitate GOC conversations. After the kickoff conference, participants reported improvements in their confidence in facilitating GOC conversations. The hospital teams then instituted site-specific pilot interventions to promote GOC conversations, identifying essential elements required for ongoing improvement. Since projects varied by hospital, results did as well, but reported positive outcomes included increased GOC conversations, increased Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment form completion rates, new screening and documentation methods, and increased support from leadership.
Conclusions: The PREP-CPC pilot successfully engaged a diverse set of hospitals to participate in quality improvement collaborative promoting primary palliative care and more frequent GOC conversations. This initiative revealed several lessons that should guide future interventions.
BACKGROUND: Early palliative care referral for patients with advanced cancer has demonstrable benefits but is underutilized. We sought to characterize medical oncologists' perceptions about palliative care referral in their clinical practices.
METHODS: We conducted 4 focus groups with a national sample of medical oncologists to elicit perspectives about the optimal timing of and barriers to palliative care referral for patients with cancer. We used qualitative content analysis to uncover themes related to early integration of palliative care into standard oncologic practice.
RESULTS: Study participants readily acknowledged the evidence supporting early palliative care referral. However, medical oncologists identified patient-centered and physician-centered barriers to widespread adoption of early palliative care. Patient-centered barriers included patients' and families' perceptions or misperceptions of the role of palliative care. Additionally, physicians themselves described acting as a barrier to palliative care referral because they were concerned that palliative care physicians may interfere with the plan of care, or offer options that were not endorsed by the medical oncologist. Medical oncologists depicted themselves having authority over the timing of palliative care referral, and as granting limited autonomy to other clinical team members in counseling patients about advanced care planning.
CONCLUSIONS: Medical oncologists are hesitant to adopt the practice of early palliative care referral because they are concerned that other physicians may disrupt a patient's treatment plan. Physician-centered barriers may delay integration of palliative care, and future efforts to promote a collaborative approach to advanced care planning may improve patient-centered outcomes through access to early palliative care.
PURPOSE: Multidisciplinary communication and collaboration are key to planning and delivering end-of-life care for patients with advanced and metastatic cancer. We sought to characterize medical oncologists' perspectives on the role of radiation oncologists in end-of-life care.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A sample of US medical oncologists was recruited using snowball sampling methods. Audio recordings of 4 professionally moderated focus groups were transcribed. Investigators from diverse backgrounds (medical oncology, radiation oncology, critical care medicine, palliative care, and public health) independently reviewed each transcript. Qualitative content analysis was used to create consensus codes that were applied to subsequent focus group transcripts in an iterative process.
RESULTS: Medical oncologists expressed complex views regarding the role of radiation oncologists in end-of-life care. Identified themes included the limited role of radiation oncologists, territorial concerns, capability, and desire of radiation oncologists in this realm, and the need for communication between providers. Radiation oncologists were compared with surgeons, whose interaction with patients ceased after their service had been performed. In this regard, control of palliative care referral or end-of-life care discussions was thought to be in the territory of medical oncologists who had longitudinal relationships with patients from diagnosis. Medical oncologists were concerned about the capability of radiation oncologists to accurately prognosticate, and stated radiation oncologists lacked knowledge of subsequent lines of systemic therapy available to patients. Radiation oncologists' fear of upsetting medical oncologists was thought to be justified if they engaged in end-of-life care planning without direct permission from the referring medical oncologist.
CONCLUSIONS: Participation of radiation oncologists in end-of-life care planning was viewed with skepticism by medical oncologists. Radiation oncologists should focus on increasing open communication and teamwork with medical oncologists and demonstrate their ability to prognosticate and counsel patients regarding end-of-life care decisions.
INTRODUCTION: In 2013 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a mandate requiring that all patients undergoing destination therapy ventricular assist device (DT VAD) implantation have access to a palliative care team prior to surgery. Subsequently, many VAD programs implemented a mandatory pre-implantation palliative care consultation for patients considering DT VAD. However, little is known about the quality of these consults.
METHODS: All patients undergoing DT VAD at Northwestern Memorial Hospital from October 30, 2013 (the CMS decision date) through March 1, 2018 were included. Palliative care consultation notes were qualitatively analyzed for elements of "palliative care assessment" and preparedness planning.
RESULTS: Sixty-eight pre-implantation palliative care consultations were analyzed. Fifty-six percent of the consults occurred in the intensive care unit, and the median time from consult to VAD implant was 6 days. General palliative care elements were infrequently discussed. Further, the elements of preparedness planning - device failure, post VAD health-related quality of life, device complications, and progressive comorbidities - were discussed in only 10%, 54%, 49%, and 12% of consultations, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: One-time pre-implantation palliative care consultations at our institution do not lead to completion of preparedness planning or even general palliative care assessment. Further work is needed to determine the most effective way to integrate palliative care into pre-implantation care.
AIMS: Our primary aims were to assess growth in the local hospital based workforce, changes in the composition of the workforce and use of an interdisciplinary team, and sources of support for palliative medicine teams in hospitals participating in a regional palliative training program in Chicago.
METHODS: PC program directors and administrators at 16 sites were sent an electronic survey on institutional and PC program characteristics such as: hospital type, number of beds, PC staffing composition, PC programs offered, start-up years, PC service utilization and sources of financial support for fiscal years 2012 and 2014.
RESULTS: The median number of consultations reported for existing programs in 2012 was 345 (IQR 109 - 2168) compared with 840 (IQR 320 - 4268) in 2014. At the same time there were small increases in the overall team size from a median of 3.2 full time equivalent positions (FTE) in 2012 to 3.3 FTE in 2013, with a median increase of 0.4 (IQR 0-1.0). Discharge to hospice was more common than deaths in the acute care setting in hospitals with palliative medicine teams that included both social workers and advanced practice nurses ( p < .0001).
CONCLUSIONS: Given the shortage of palliative medicine specialist providers more emphasis should be placed on training other clinicians to provide primary level palliative care while addressing the need to hire sufficient workforce to care for seriously ill patients.
The NCCN Guidelines for Palliative Care provide interdisciplinary recommendations on palliative care for patients with cancer. These NCCN Guidelines Insights summarize and provide context for the updated guidelines recommendations regarding hospice and end-of-life (EOL) care. Updates for 2017 include revisions to and restructuring of the algorithms that address important EOL concerns. These recommendations were revised to provide clearer guidance for oncologists as they care for patients with cancer who are approaching the transition to EOL care. Recommendations for interventions and reassessment based on estimated life expectancy were streamlined and reprioritized to promote hospice referrals and improved EOL care.