Clinical significance of palliative care assessment in patients referred for urgent intensive care unit admission: A cohort study☆

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To evaluate clinical characteristics of patients with palliative care (PC) and urgent intensive care unit (ICU) referrals in the same hospital admission.


All urgent ICU referrals at an academic, tertiary hospital, and the co-occurrence and timing of PC assessment were retrieved from a prospectively collected database.


From May 2014 to May 2015, 2476 patients were analyzed and 179 (7%) had co-occurrence of PC assessment and urgent ICU referral in the same hospital admission. Hospital mortality was higher (odds ratio, 8.3; 95% confidence interval, 5.4-12.7) and ICU admission was lower (odds ratio, 0.54; 95% confidence interval, 0.40-0.74) in patients with PC assessment, compared with patients without concurrent PC and ICU referrals. Variables associated with PC assessment were older age, diagnosis of cancer, depressed level of consciousness, nonsurgical admission, lower performance status, physician's subjective prognosis of poor outcome, and length of hospitalization before ICU referral.


In this cohort of patients with urgent ICU referral, clinical characteristics at the moment of ICU referral were associated with co-occurrence of PC assessment in the same hospital admission. These characteristics might guide the development of instruments to enhance early referral of high-risk patients to PC services.

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