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JAMA. 1988 Jan 15;259(3):378-83.

Development of a comprehensive supportive care team for the hopelessly ill on a university hospital medical service.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI.


We developed a supportive care service for a university hospital medical service that serves a socially and medically disadvantaged urban population. The team includes a faculty physician and a clinical nurse specialist who provide primary medical care, family support, and in-service guidance to hospital staff about ethical issues. A multidisciplinary approach incorporates nursing, pastoral care, social work, and other hospital services. We report our experience from November 1985 through May 1987, during which time 222 patients were referred to the team; 212 patients were accepted. The goals and operation of the service are described. The most common (n = 62, 29%) diagnosis on referral was global central nervous system anoxia following cardiopulmonary arrest. Other severe neurological conditions accounted for an additional 79 patients (37%). Comparison of patients on the service with a similar group revealed no difference in survival rate, although hospital length of stay and charges were progressively reduced after implementation of the service. This approach to the care of hopelessly ill patients may serve as an alternative method of treatment in similar hospital settings.

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