Implementing Routine Palliative Care Consultation Before LVAD Implantation: A Single Center Experience

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16 Scopus citations


Context: Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are increasingly used to improve quality of life for end-stage heart failure patients. The Joint Commission now requires preimplantation palliative care assessment; however, many palliative care teams have little experience providing this service. Objective: To describe the integration of palliative services at one Center of Excellence for Heart and Vascular Care. Methods: This is a retrospective chart review of all patients receiving LVADs at a single urban academic medical center from January 2015 to September 2016. Palliative care needs and services provided are described. Two case presentations illustrate the collaboration between the cardiothoracic and palliative care teams. Results: Fifty one patients were included. Of those, 28 received a palliative care consultation during this roll-out period. The rate of consultation rose from 35% to 71% as workflows improved with institutional commitment. Symptom assessment, psychosocial assessment, and advance care planning (ACP) were always performed (n = 28; 100%). More than half of the patients were evaluated for dyspnea (n = 20; 71%), fatigue (n = 18; 64%), and pain (n = 16; 57%). Consults centered around ACP, and very few patients (n = 7; 25%) required palliative care follow-up. Palliative consultation did not delay LVAD placement. Conclusion: Although palliative care consultants provided initial evaluation and management of multiple symptoms, there was not a large ongoing need. Integration of palliative services into the care of patients receiving LVADs can be incorporated into the workflow of the cardiothoracic and palliative care teams, resulting in improved ACP for all patients receiving LVADs and better care coordination for patients at the end of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1350-1355
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Left ventricular assist device
  • advance care planning
  • advanced cardiac therapies
  • health services
  • heart failure
  • palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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