Clinical findings of a palliative care consultation team at a comprehensive cancer center

Navneet Dhillon, Scott Kopetz, Be Lian Pei, Egidio Del Fabbro, Tao Zhang, Eduardo Bruera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Background: Palliative care consultation teams (PCCTs) are being established in cancer centers for the management of patients' physical and psychosocial distress. As clinical findings of these teams have been reported infrequently, we aim to describe the experience of our high-volume inpatient PCCT. Patients and methods: We obtained clinical and demographic data on patients referred to our PCCT from the palliative care departmental database from September 1, 2003, to August 31, 2004. Results: In 1 year, 1067 consultations took place for 922 hospitalized patients. The patients' mean age was 60 (range, 3-98) years. The most common cancers were thoracic/head and neck, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, gynecologic cancers, and lymphoma. Thirty-four percent of the patients were transferred to the inpatient palliative care unit, while the remainder were followed by the PCCT as consultants. The main problems requiring PCCT consultation were pain (56%), delirium (34%), dyspnea (25%), fatigue (14%), and end-of-life psychosocial (EOL) issues (12%). Twenty-four percent of patients died during the hospitalization. Death during the hospitalization was more common in patients with delirium, dyspnea, and EOL issues and less likely in patients referred to the PCCT for pain or depression. Constipation was more common in patients with solid tumors, whereas EOL issues were more common in patients with hematologic malignancies. Of the patients who were able to be discharged, 56% went home, 37% to hospice, and 7% elsewhere. Conclusions: These results provide insight into the demand and utility of this service for those considering the establishment of a PCCT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-197
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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