Dr Tintinalli on End of Life Care
With Dr. Judith Tintinalli
What does Dr. Tintinalli do when she has a dying patient and a family who needs help to make decisions and understand the options? – She gets involved. She calls the PCP. She gets palliative care on the line. She advocates for the patient to help make sure their wishes are understood and honored. There comes a time when you go from prolonging life to prolonging death. Knowing when that point is can be hard.
There are many models for how palliative care can work in an ED. We can provide it ourselves to a certain extent, and in some cases, can consult palliative care services to help with end-of-life decisions. But we should do something to make sure we consider the patient’s wishes before performing aggressive measures that could leave the patient with a quality of life that would not be meaningful for them.Additional Information on Palliative Care
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- Beemath A, Zalenski RJ. Palliative emergency medicine: Resuscitating comfort care? Ann Emerg Med. 2009;54(1):103-105. PMID: 19346031
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- Barbera L, Taylor C, Dudgeon D. Why do patients with cancer visit the emergency department near the end of life? CMAJ. 2010;182(6):563-568. PMID: 20231340
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Dr. Christina Shenvi is an associate professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of North Carolina. She is fellowship-trained in Geriatric Emergency Medicine and is the founder of GEMCast. She is the director of the UNC Office of Academic Excellence, president of the Association of Professional Women in Medical Sciences, co-directs the ACEP/CORD Teaching Fellowship, is on the Annals of EM editorial board, is on the Geriatric ED Accreditation board of governors, and she teaches and writes about time management at timeforyourlife.org.