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J Palliat Med. 2010 Apr;13(4):407-12. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2009.0278.

Palliative care consultations in hospitalized stroke patients.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Division of Palliative Care, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.



To determine the pattern and characteristics of palliative care (PC) consultations in patients with stroke and compare them with the characteristics of nonstroke consultations.


The palliative care program at Strong Memorial Hospital (SMH) was established in October 2001. SMH is a 765-bed academic medical center with approximately 38,000 discharges. For each consult from 2005 to 2007, we collected demographic, clinical, and service-related information. We explored similarities and differences in patients with different types of stroke, including patients with ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and subdural hematoma. In addition, we compared these data to the nonstroke patients who had a palliative care consultation during the same time period.


Over the 3-year period from 2005 to 2007, there were a total of 101 consultations in patients with stroke (6.3% of all PC consultations). Of the 101 consultations, 31 were in patients with ischemic stroke, 26 in patients with intracerebral hemorrhage, 30 in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage, and 14 in patients with subdural hematoma. Patients with stroke who had a PC consult were more functionally impaired, less likely to have capacity, more likely to die in the hospital, and to have fewer traditional symptom burdens than other common diagnoses seen on the PC consultation service. The most common trajectory to death was withdrawal of mechanical ventilation, but varied by type of stroke. Common treatments negotiated in these consultations included mechanical ventilation, artificial nutrition, tracheostomy, and less likely antibiobics, intravenous fluids, and various neurosurgical procedures.


Patients with stroke are a common diagnosis seen on an inpatient palliative care consult service. Each stroke type represents patients with potentially distinct palliative care needs.

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