Palliative Care Processes Embedded in the ICU Workflow May Reserve Palliative Care Teams for Refractory Cases

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Palliative Care Teams have been shown to be instrumental in the early identification of multiple aspects of advanced care planning. Despite an increased number of services to meet the rising consultation demand, it is conceivable that the numbers of palliative care consultations generated from an ICU alone could become overwhelming for an existing palliative care team.


Improve end-of-life care in the ICU by incorporating basic palliative care processes into the daily routine ICU workflow, thereby reserving the palliative care team for refractory situations.


A structured, palliative care, quality-improvement program was implemented and evaluated in the ICU at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Hawaii. This included selecting trigger criteria, a care model, forming guidelines, and developing evaluation criteria.

Main Outcome Measures:

These included the early identification of the multiple features of advanced care planning, numbers of proactive ICU and palliative care family meetings, and changes in code status and treatment upon completion of either meeting.


Early identification of Goals-of-Care, advance directives, and code status by the ICU staff led to a proactive ICU family meeting with resultant increases in changes in code status and treatment. The numbers of palliative care consultations also rose, but not significantly.


Palliative care processes could be incorporated into a daily ICU workflow allowing for integration of aspects of advanced care planning to be identified in a systematic and proactive manner. This reserved the palliative care team for situations when palliative care efforts performed by the ICU staff were ineffective.

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