Palliative care in the emergency department respects patients' wishes, saves money

Fewer than 50 emergency departments (ED) focus on palliative-care principles, according to David Weissman, an oncologist and professor emeritus at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, reports The Washington Post.

Oftentimes, patients that come through the ED face unexpected life-altering conditions, but ED providers are not discussing the patient's wishes, such as "does the patient want to use a ventilator or have end-of-life planning documents?"

Emory University School of Medicine, under the sponsorship of the Center to Advance Palliative Care, is working toward integrating palliative care into EDs. One of the key components to the program is to use checklists that emphasize asking questions about patients' end-of-life wishes and related care.

Palliative care use has doubled in the past decade. Today, 63 percent of hospitals with more than 50 beds have palliative care programs, up from 30 percent a decade ago. Such programs can help save hospitals between $1,696 and $4,908 for each admission, reports The Post.

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