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S D J Med. 2002 Jul;55(7):269-78.

A team approach in palliative care: enhancing outcomes.


While most Americans envision a "good death" as one occurring quickly and painlessly at home surrounded by loved ones, many people do not die in this fashion. Palliative care focuses on holistic treatment of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment, and strives to improve quality of life for patients and families at end-of-life (EOL). This hospital-based study examines the extent to which a palliative care consultant team makes a difference in EOL for patients and families. Data were collected from a convenience sample of 50 hospitalized patients referred to an interdisciplinary palliative care consulting team at a South Dakota tertiary hospital during 2001. Various palliative care interventions were introduced during the course of hospitalization, and data were collected two days later to see if quality of life had improved. Statistically significant improvements were found in pain levels, non-pain symptom management, numerous psychosocial measures of quality of life, change in code status, and perceptions of communication and treatment during hospitalization. The study demonstrates that consultations with a palliative care team are beneficial and enhance the EOL experience for patients and families.

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