Background: In order to improve early access to palliative care, strategies for monitoring referral practices in real-time are needed. Objective: To evaluate how Australia-Modified Karnofsky Performance Status (AKPS) at the time of initial palliative care consult differs between serious illnesses and could be used to identify opportunities for earlier referral. Methods: We retrospectively evaluated data from an inpatient palliative care consult registry. Serious illnesses were classified using ICD-10 codes. AKPS was assessed by palliative care clinicians during consult. Results: The AKPS distribution varied substantially between the different serious illnesses (p < 0.001). While patients with cancer and heart disease often had preserved functional status, the majority of patients with dementia, neurological, lung, liver, and renal disease were already completely bedbound at the time of initial palliative care consult. Conclusion: Measuring functional status at the time of palliative care referral could be helpful for monitoring referral practices and identifying opportunities for earlier referral.
- early palliative care
- functional status
- palliative care consult service
- referral practices