Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 203--209

Barriers to effective use of palliative care services in the acute care setting with emphasis on terminal noncancer diseases

Department of Internal Medicine, Internal Medicine Residency Program of St Vincent Charity Medical Center, Cleveland, OH, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Randol Kennedy
900 O'Malley, Apartment 304, Parma, OH 44134
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJPC.IJPC_201_18

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Introduction: This study assessed the views of nurses, resident doctors, and attending physicians of the use of a readily available pain and palliative care specialty at their institution while assessing their ability to recognize terminal noncancer illnesses. Methodology: In community hospital consisting of an in-patient pain and palliative specialty, attending physicians, residents, and nurses participate in a survey highlighting the following: parameters for referral/consultation, definition of noncancer-related terminal illnesses, role of pain and palliative care in acute care, consult/referral delay, barriers to effective referral, recognition and withdrawal of futile care, and opioid prescription. Patterns of responses by each professional group were compared and contrasted. Results: The most common accepted reasons for referral were that of hospice care, terminal cancer, and uncontrolled pain, while reasons related to terminal noncancer illnesses were less accepted. A majority of approved physical and social parameters to define terminal noncancer illnesses were not universally accepted among the groups-especially among attendings and residents. While most participants agreed that the best time to refer to palliative care specialty was at the point of diagnosis of a terminal illness, >25% of participants from each group felt that referrals should be done later in the course of the illness. The most highlighted reasons expressed by attendings and residents for the delay in consult were either that of excessive withdrawal of modalities of care or interference with ongoing management that may benefit the patient. Most residents and nurses agreed that attendings' reluctance to consult is a major barrier to its utilization. Conclusion: Barriers to effective utilization are multifactorial, mostly relating to perceptions of the specialty as well as ineffective communication within specialties.


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