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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Journal of Palliative Medicine, Volume 22, Issue S1, September 2019, Pages S66-S71.

The published version is available at Copyright © Grudzen et al.


Introduction: Palliative care is recommended for patients with life-limiting illnesses; however, there are few standardized protocols for outpatient palliative care visits. To address the paucity of data, this article aims to: (1) describe the elements of outpatient palliative care that are generalizable across clinical sites; (2) achieve consensus about standardized instruments used to assess domains within outpatient palliative care; and (3) develop a protocol and intervention checklist for palliative care clinicians to document outpatient visit elements that might not normally be recorded in the electronic heath record.

Methods: As part of a randomized control trial of nurse-led telephonic case management versus specialty, outpatient palliative care in older adults with serious life-limiting illnesses in the Emergency Department, we assessed the structural characteristics of outpatient care clinics across nine participating health care systems. In addition, direct observation of outpatient palliative care visits, consultation from content experts, and survey data were used to develop an outpatient palliative care protocol and intervention checklist.

Implementation: The protocol and checklist are being used to document the contents of each outpatient palliative care visit conducted as a part of the Emergency Medicine Palliative Care Access (EMPallA) trial. Variation across palliative care team staffing, clinic session capacity, and physical clinic model presents a challenge to standardizing the delivery of outpatient palliative care.

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