Field of Work: End-of-Life Care
Problem Synopsis: During the 1980s and 1990s, Americans began to be concerned about the long period of suffering many people endured before their deaths. According to researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSM), about half of patients who die in hospitals receive care in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) within three days of their death. One-third spend 10 or more days in the ICU during their final hospitalization.
Synopsis of the Work: From March 2003 to February 2007, with $371,150 from RWJF's Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care national program, researchers at the UWSM in Seattle created an intervention designed to improve the quality of end-of-life care in the ICU. Seven ICUs (medical, trauma, neurosurgical, surgical, coronary, burns and pediatric) at Harborview Medical Center, a 350-bed hospital within the University of Washington system, used the intervention.
In January 2005, Harborview created a 24-hour Palliative Care Consult Service comprised of clinicians and other hospital staff who respond to requests throughout the medical center. The neurosurgery department and the medical ICU began to train all staff in palliative care on a regular basis.
Project staff reported the following key findings: