Palliative Care Consults in an Inpatient Setting for Patients With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2021 Sep;38(9):1091-1098. doi: 10.1177/1049909120969959. Epub 2020 Oct 28.


Background: Limited data about the frequency and outcomes of palliative care (PC) specialty consultations for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are available.

Methods: This study was a retrospective chart review. Patients with ALS admitted to 2 academic hospitals from 2013-2018 were included. We compared patients who were seen by an inpatient specialty PC service (PC group) with those who were not (NonPC group).

Results: Twenty-four patients met inclusion criteria (9 PC group, 15 NonPC group). Patients in both groups were similar in age and had been diagnosed for a similar amount of time before admission. In the PC group, 6 patients were seen by more than 1 PC multidisciplinary team member (physician, social worker, spiritual care provider, clinical nurse specialist). PC consultations were requested for goals of care (GOC) (n = 7), pain (n = 4), hospice information/referral (n = 2), dyspnea (n = 1), and excessive oral secretions (n = 1). GOC topics addressed for both groups were code status, treatment preferences (tracheostomy placement, percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy placement, change to comfort care), prognostication, and hospice information/referral. Patients in the PC group were significantly more likely to be discharged with GOC (89%, p = 0.02) and completed advance care planning (ACP) documents (89%, p = 0.04) than patients in the NonPC group (32%; 47%). Despite reason for consultation, at least 1 symptom was addressed for every patient seen by PC specialists.

Conclusions: Inpatient specialty PC consultation for patients with ALS leads to greater documentation of GOC and ACP by discharge. PC consultants participate in symptom management in patients with ALS during hospitalization.

Keywords: advance care planning; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; goals of care; inpatient; neuropalliative care; palliative care.

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Palliative Care*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies