Palliative care consultations: how do they impact the care of hospitalized patients?

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2000 Sep;20(3):166-73. doi: 10.1016/s0885-3924(00)00163-9.


To provide a detailed description of the recommendations of a Palliative Care Service (PCS) and to describe the impact of these recommendations on the care of terminally ill patients in an academic medical center, we describe data from all consecutive patients referred by their attending physicians to the PCS of an academic teaching hospital over a 15-month period. All patients were seen within 24 hours of consultation request. Data were collected prospectively on the day of discharge or death. Attention was focused on six recommendations and their implementation: 1) discussion about prognosis and goals of care; 2) pursuing documentation of advance directives; 3) discussion about foregoing specific treatments and/or diagnostic interventions; 4) family and patient support; 5) discharge planning; and 6) symptom management. Over a 15-month period, we collected data on 325 patients. The most frequent diagnoses were cancer, dementia, and HIV disease. The patients were followed for a mean of 7.6 days. The average number of recommendations was 4.2 per patient and 91% of the recommendations were implemented (3.8 per patient). Recommendations increased to 5.3 per patient and the implementation rate increased to 97% (5.1 per patient) for the 44 patients transferred to the Palliative Care Unit (PCU). PCS consultations result in multiple recommendations with a very high implementation rate. The number of recommendations and the high implementation rate suggest a strong need for palliative care services within acute care hospitals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Advance Directives
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Critical Illness / therapy
  • Female
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Discharge
  • Referral and Consultation* / statistics & numerical data