Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
Identifying Palliative Care Needs of Older Adults Undergoing Emergent Abdominal Surgery
The project will identify palliative care needs among surgical patients and highlight opportunities for them to reap palliative care benefits, which are widely accepted in other seriously ill patients. The goal is to take a population of vulnerable, older surgical patients known to be at high risk for poor outcome, advance their palliative care needs, and create a road map for providing palliative care to high risk surgical patients. A big challenge for palliative care is defining a role for itself outside of patients with cancer and known terminal illnesses. A big challenge for us in surgery is identifying patients who will most benefit from palliative care and understanding the processes to integrate palliative care with surgical care. While a higher number of older patients with a serious illness are undergoing surgery, palliative care in surgery is still in its infancy. Surgeons need to take lessons learned from other fields and become more competent in providing primary palliative care and increasing access to palliative care and hospice to patients who could benefit.