Quality indicators of palliative care for cardiovascular intensive care

J Intensive Care. 2022 Mar 14;10(1):15. doi: 10.1186/s40560-022-00607-6.


Healthcare providers working for cardiovascular intensive care often face challenges and they play an essential role in palliative care and end-of-life care because of the high mortality rates in the cardiac intensive care unit. Unfortunately, there are several barriers to integrating palliative care, cardiovascular care, and intensive care. The main reasons are as follows: cardiovascular disease-specific trajectories differ from cancer, there is uncertainty associated with treatments and diagnoses, aggressive treatments are necessary for symptom relief, and there is ethical dilemma regarding withholding and withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy. Quality indicators that can iterate the minimum requirements of each medical discipline could be used to overcome these barriers and effectively practice palliative care in cardiovascular intensive care. Unfortunately, there are no specific quality indicators for palliative care in cardiovascular intensive care. A few indicators and their domains are useful for understanding current palliative care in cardiovascular intensive care. Among them, several domains, such as symptom palliation, patient- and family-centered decision-making, continuity of care, and support for health care providers that are particularly important in cardiovascular intensive care.Historically, the motivation for using quality indicators is to summarize mechanisms for external accountability and verification, and formative mechanisms for quality improvement. Practically, when using quality indicators, it is necessary to check structural indicators in each healthcare service line, screen palliative care at the first visit, and integrate palliative care teams with other professionals. Finally, we would like to state that quality indicators in cardiovascular intensive care could be useful as an educational tool for practicing palliative care, understanding the minimum requirements, and as a basic structure for future discussions.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Domains; End-of-life; Intensive care; Palliative care; Quality indicators.

Publication types

  • Review