What does Dr. Tintinalli do when she has a dying patient and a family who needs help to make decisions and understand the options? – She gets involved. She calls the PCP. She gets palliative care on the line. She advocates for the patient to help make sure their wishes are understood and honored. There comes a time when you go from prolonging life to prolonging death. Knowing when that point is can be hard. Listen to hear her thoughts in this post from 10/2015.
There are many models for how palliative care can work in an ED. We can provide it ourselves to a certain extent, and in some cases, can consult palliative care services to help with end-of-life decisions. But we should do something to make sure we consider the patient’s wishes before performing aggressive measures that could leave the patient with a quality of life that would not be meaningful for them.
For more on palliative care, see more in an ALiEM post on the topic.
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