The latest National Consensus Project Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care underscore the importance of interdisciplinary care and care coordination as patients move across care settings, according to a member of the guidelines committee.
Betty Ferrell, PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN, co-chair of the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care, spoke to Healio Family Medicine prior to the guidelines being released. She encouraged primary care physicians and palliative care specialists to work together to provide recommendations for care across domains including physical, psychosocial and spiritual care.
“People living with serious illness can benefit from palliative care to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. Palliative care specialists provide this care and are available to assist and consult with primary care physicians,” she said.
“Primary care physicians should be key providers of palliative care as part of their commitment to quality patient-centered care. They manage patients from the time of diagnosis and they support them across all settings of care. They also develop strong relationships with patients which is important as they assist patients and families in developing their goals of care and in making important treatment decisions,” Ferrell continued.
This fourth version of the guidelines also reflects the changing landscape of population health and that people of all age groups may need palliative care, she said.
“This edition is in response to the growing recognition in society that people living with serious illness have enormous burdens and needs. Palliative care is focused on this care from the time of initial diagnosis and provided regardless of prognosis. As our population ages, we recognize that people are living with heart disease, pulmonary illnesses, renal disease and cancer, as well as other diseases which can greatly diminish quality of life. Palliative care also applies to seriously ill children, from infants in neonatal care units through adolescents and young adults living with serious diseases.”
The guidelines include specific clinical and organizational strategies, screening and assessment elements, tools and resources as well as practice examples and treatment considerations.
Ferrell told Healio Family Medicine that 60 professionals and 16 national organizations representing palliative care were consulted to develop the guidelines. Then, the RAND Evidence-based Practice Center and clinical experts completed a systematic review for the guidelines before publication.
The guidelines have been endorsed by more than 80 medical organizations, including the American Board of Medicine, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and American Geriatrics Society, according to the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care. – by Janel Miller
Ferrell reports no relevant financial disclosures. Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine the other authors’ relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.
For more information: National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care. Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, 4th edition. https://www.nationalcoalitionhpc.org/ncp/