UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Misc

Title: Palliative Care in the Emergency Department

Posted: 3/26/2024 by Heidi Teague, MD (Emailed: 3/30/2024) (Updated: 3/30/2024)
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Advancements in complex illness management have led to an increasing number of patients surviving longer, with subsequent development of end-stage organ disease, cancer, and dementia. EDs are encountering patients with more complex medical needs who present with challenging complaints such as functional loss, bounce-back visits for uncontrolled symptoms, and caregiver fatigue. ACEP underscored the importance of advancing access to palliative care in 2013 and is one of its top five measures in the Choosing Wisely campaign, aimed at minimizing unwarranted and excessive medical interventions. Proactive symptom management, including promptly addressing pain, dyspnea, nausea, and other distressing symptoms, as well as goals of care conversations, and early referral to hospital and outpatient palliative services can enhance patient and caregiver comfort and quality of life.


Wang DH. Beyond Code Status: Palliative Care Begins in the Emergency Department. Annals of emergency medicine. 2017;69(4):437-443. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2016.10.027