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J Palliat Med. 2003 Apr;6(2):321-6.

The Renal Palliative Care Initiative.

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Baystate Medical Center and Western New England Renal and Transplant Associates, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA.


Despite ongoing technological advances, patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) have a mortality rate of approximately 23% per year, and comorbid cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and peripheral vascular disorders often make life on dialysis an ordeal. This patient population needs an improved approach to symptom assessment and control, as well as advance care planning and high-quality palliative care. Families need support during the lifetime and after the death of their loved ones. To address these needs, the Renal Palliative Care Initiative (RPCI) was instituted at Baystate Medical Center, a large tertiary care hospital, and at eight dialysis clinics in the Connecticut River Valley. With the cooperation of a large nephrology practice, the Western New England Renal and Transplant Associates, a core group of physicians, nurses, and social workers were trained in palliative medicine, and charged with the goals of developing and implementing innovative interventions. The RPCI's programs include symptom management protocols, advance care planning, and bereavement services for families and staff. The Initiative is increasing completion of formal advance directives by the patient population, while staff and families are particularly pleased with annual renal memorial services. The RPCI experience has much to offer the practice of nephrology, and it is relevant to ongoing efforts to extend palliative medicine beyond the traditional focus on cancer and AIDS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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