November 11, 2015 – Palliative Care


Anchor lead: Do doctors recognize when their patients should be referred for palliative care? Elizabeth Tracey reports

If you have a good relationship with your physician, chances are good he or she will predict you’ll live longer with a chronic medical condition than a stranger would predict, a recent study found.  And that’s fine except when you’re struggling with symptoms and could really use a palliative care approach.  Patricia Davidson, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, comments.

Davidson: We have to try and use objective data to prognosticate.  Certainly in cancer and in many conditions like heart failure there is the magic question, ‘would you be surprised if this patient dies within the next twelve months?’ if the answer is no, I would not be surprised, that’s a clear signal for the need for referral.  Across many clinical groups we have clear prognostic indicators that tell us that this patient is not only more likely to die but more likely to suffer from symptoms.  :33

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.