Improve palliative care and pain management


Sunday’s pre-course titled “Essentials of Palliative Care and Pain Management for Hospitalists” will focus on how to accurately share a prognosis with patients and their family members, how to discuss care plans with patients, and how to treat severe pain and other symptoms.

“There aren’t enough palliative care physicians for all hospitalized patients with serious illnesses, so it’s vital that hospitalists have the necessary skills and confidence to practice primary palliative care,” said course director Theresa Vettese, MD, who is associate professor in the division of general medicine, department of medicine, Emory University, Atlanta.

“As the U.S. population ages and physicians’ ability to treat medical conditions improves, we will continue to see an increased patient population with serious illness in the hospital setting,” Dr. Vettese said. “Hospitalists will regularly care for these patients and are well positioned to make a major impact on improving their quality of life as well as decreasing their suffering. It’s important that hospitalists have competence in primary palliative care so that they can offer patients and families the greatest compassion and care during difficult times.”

Dr. Vettese said the pre-course’s goals include having participants focus on strategies to become more comfortable and confident in their core communication skills with seriously ill hospitalized patients. Attendees also will gain a better understanding of evidence-based management of pain across a continuum of disease states, from relative health to serious illness and end of life. Speakers will discuss the rational use of opioid analgesics, appropriate use of adjuvant medications for treating pain, and management of complex pain patients. Participants will learn how to assess and provide effective interventions for nonpain symptoms in hospitalized patients with serious illness, including depression/anxiety, nausea/vomiting, dyspnea, pruritus, and fatigue.

Dr. Vettese, whose course codirector is Rab Razzak, MD, assistant professor of medicine and director of outpatient palliative medicine at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, said that all hospitalists struggle with difficult cases – whether it’s managing a cancer patient with uncontrolled pain or helping patients align treatment options to their individual values and goals.

“Our hope is that participants will return to their institution and be more comfortable in practicing basic palliative care skills as well as sharing lessons learned with their colleagues,” Dr. Vettese said.

“Developing primary palliative care skills is an outstanding way for hospitalists of all experience levels to broaden their skill set and make a key difference in patients’ lives,” she continued. “Our course will enable participants to provide even better care to their patients.

“Focusing a full day on developing primary palliative care skills is another example of SHM identifying expertise that its members want and need in order to optimally care for patients and educate colleagues and trainees,” Dr. Vettese concluded. Learners of all levels will benefit from the session.

Dr. Vettese had no relevant financial conflicts to disclose.

Essentials of Palliative Care and Pain Management for Hospitalists
Sunday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
National Harbor 3

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