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Palliative Care in the Neuro-Intensive Care Unit

November 18, 2019

Author information:

Bar B1Creutzfeldt CJ2Rubin MA31Department of Neurology, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL, USA. barak.bar@lumc.edu.

University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA.

Abstract
INTRODUCTION:

The proportion of hospitals with specialist palliative care services in the USA has increased substantially over the past decade. Severe acute brain injury presents with unique challenges, especially regarding quality of life. The growth and increased recognition of neurocritical care as a subspecialty has not been paralleled by studies regarding how best to integrate palliative care for this unique patient population. Thus, we surveyed members of the Neurocritical Care Society (NCS) to explore current practice patterns, perceptions, and preferences regarding integration of palliative care in the neurological intensive care unit (Neuro-ICU).

METHODS:

We created a 19-item survey using SurveyMonkey to assess practice patterns, perceptions, and preferences of neurointensivists regarding integration of palliative care in the Neuro-ICU. The survey, approved by the NCS research committee, was distributed to all active members of the NCS.

RESULTS:

A total of 424 NCS members representing 19% of the 2200 list serve members completed the survey. The majority (58%) of respondents were attending physicians, who worked primarily in a dedicated Neuro-ICU (67%), at university affiliated academic medical centers (65%). Palliative care consultations are utilized infrequently (< 11%) by the majority of the respondents (59%). The most common indication for a palliative consultation was to discuss goals of care and make treatment decisions (73%). A large majority (77%) either agreed or strongly agreed that palliative care services were utilized in the management of difficult cases apart from discussions regarding withdrawal of life sustaining therapy. Palliative care needs of Neuro-ICU patients were considered different from patients in other ICUs by the majority of respondents (66%).

CONCLUSION:

Our study provides insights into the current perceptions, practice patterns, and preferences of neurointensivists as it relates to palliative care consultation in the Neuro-ICU.

PMID: 31468371  DOI: 10.1007/s12028-019-00838-w