Bridging the gap: A palliative care consultation service in a hematological malignancy-bone marrow transplant unit
Background There is often a lack of collaboration between hematological malignancy-bone marrow transplantation (HM-BMT) units and palliative care (PC) services. In this paper, we describe a quality improvement project that sought to close this gap at a tertiary care hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from August 2006 to May 2010. Design and methods Through a needs assessment, didactic lectures, clinical consultation, and the informal presence of PC clinicians, the team created a palliative care service in HM-BMT unit of the Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh. The following data were collected for each consult: referral reason, daily pain assessments, whether or not a "goals of care" conversation took place, and hospice enrollment. Lastly, satisfaction surveys were administered. Results During the program, 392 PC consultations were provided to 256 unique patients. Of these 256 patients, the PC clinicians documented the frst goals of care conversations in 67% of patients (n = 172). Of the 278 consults referred for pain, 70% (n = 194) involved reports of unacceptable or very unacceptable pain at baseline. Sixty-six percent (n = 129) of these 194 consults involved reports of pain that was acceptable or very acceptable within 48 hours of consultation. In addition, the hospice referral rate grew from a preimplementation rate of 5% to 41% (n = 67) of 165 patients who died during the period of program implementation. Lastly, hematological oncologists reported high levels of satisfaction with the program. Limitations The main limitation of this project is that it was a single institution study. Conclusion The successful integration of a PC team into a hematological malignancy unit suggests great potential for positive interdisciplinary collaboration between these two felds.