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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2005 Jun;29(6):544-51.

Pilot of a pathway to improve the care of imminently dying oncology inpatients in a Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

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VA-New York Harbor Healthcare System, Brooklyn, New York 11209, USA.


We report on the implementation of a previously developed clinical pathway for terminally ill patients, Palliative Care for Advanced Disease (PCAD), on a Veterans Administration (VA) acute care oncology unit, comparing processes of care and outcomes for patients on and off the pathway. The PCAD pathway is designed to identify imminently dying patients, review care goals, respect patients' wishes, assess and manage symptoms, address spirituality, and support family members. Retrospective chart reviews from 15 patients who died on PCAD, 14 patients who died on general wards during the same time, and 10 oncology unit patients who died prior to PCAD revealed that PCAD patients were more likely to have documentation of care goals and plans of comfort care (P=0.0001), fewer interventions, and more symptoms assessed (P=0.004), and more symptoms managed according to PCAD guidelines (P=0.02). Implementation of PCAD improved care of dying inpatients by increasing documentation of goals and plans of care, improving symptom assessment and management, and decreasing interventions at the end of life.

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