Medicine & Pharmacology, Anesthesiology; palliative care team; seriously ill patients; end-of-life; quality of life; symptom relief; acute palliative care unit; cost savings
Traditionally, palliative care (PC) systems focused on the needs of advanced cancer patients. But, most patients needing PC have end-stage organ diseases. Similarly, PC models focused on the needs of patients in hospice or at home; however, in most cases PC is provided in acute hospitals. Indeed, the symptom burden that these patients experience in the last year of life frequently forces them to seek care in Emergency Department. The majority of them are admitted to the hospital and many die. This issue poses important concerns. Despite the efforts of attending healthcare professionals, inhospital patients do not receive optimal care near the end-of-life. Also, evidence is emerging that delay in identifying patients needing PC have a detrimental impact on their quality of life (QoL). Therefore, there is an urgent need to early and properly identify these patients among those hospitalized. Several trials reported the efficacy of PC in improving the QoL in these patients. Each hospital should ensure that a multidisciplinary PC team is available to support attending physicians to achieve the best QoL for both PC patients and their families. This review discusses the role and the impact of inhospital PC in patients with end-stage disease or advanced cancer.