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Emergency-Palliative Care: “We Can’t Save You”

An alert reader alerted me to this related piece in Slate: “We Can’t Save You: How To Tell Emergency Room Patients That They’re Dying.” An excerpt:

The ER is not an easy place to come to these realizations or assess their consequences. A handful of physicians are trying to change that. Doctors like Tammie Quest, board-certified in both palliative and emergency medicine, hope to bring the deliberative goal-setting, symptom-controlling ethos of palliative care into the adrenaline-charged, “tube ‘em and move ‘em” ER. Palliative/emergency medicine collaboration remains rare, but it’s growing as both fields seek to create a more “patient-centered” approach to emergency care for the seriously ill or the dying, to improve symptom management, enhance family support, and ensure that the patient understands the likely outcomes once they get on that high-tech conveyor belt of 21st-century emergency medicine.

Emergency medicine and palliative care-certified? That’s an interesting mix. We have a great palliative care service where I work (in fact, it just won the national “Circle of Life” award.) It makes a lot of sense to have a palliative care nurse stationed in (or routinely rounding) the ER, though. I think I’m going to suggest this to our hospice folks.

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*


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