Characteristics of emergency department patients who receive a palliative care consultation

Corita R. Grudzen, Ula Hwang, Jason A. Cohen, Michael Fischman, R. Sean Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Background: A large gap exists between the practice of emergency medicine and palliative care. Although hospice and palliative medicine has recently been recognized as a subspecialty of emergency medicine, few palliative care teams routinely interact with emergency providers, and primary palliative care skills among emergency providers are lacking. Objective: To identify the proportion and characteristics of patients who receive a palliative care consultation and arrive via the emergency department (ED). Methods: A descriptive study of adult ED patients from an urban, academic tertiary care hospital who received a palliative care consultation in January 2005 or January 2009. Results: In January 2005, 100 of the 161 consults (62%) arrived via the ED versus 63 of 124 consults (51%) in January 2009 (p=0.06). Mean days from admission to consultation in January 2005 were six days (standard deviation 11), versus nine days (SD 26) in January 2009 (p=0.35). Three of the 100 consultations (3%) in January 2005 were initiated in the ED, versus 4 of the 64 (6%) in January 2009. Conclusions: At an urban academic medical center with a well-developed palliative care service, the majority of palliative care consultations were for patients who arrive via the ED. Despite this, only a small minority of consultations originated from emergency providers and consultation was on average initiated days into a patient's hospital stay.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-399
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2012


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