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Hospitals make palliative care a priority

The Washington Post, July 26, 2011

In the controlled chaos of an hospital emergency department, ensuring that patients are pain-free and can make informed choices about their care often takes a back seat to assessing and stabilizing them and moving them through the system as fast as possible. But now some experts say that providing palliative care can and should be a priority in emergency departments, and they're putting together a program to help hospitals better address those issues. "A decade ago, we thought of the emergency department as a way station," says Tammie Quest, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. "Now we're recognizing what can be done to identify patient needs there, and help to initiate what can be done in the hospital or once the patient leaves the hospital." Under the sponsorship of the Center to Advance Palliative Care, an advocacy organization, Quest is heading up the development of a program that will provide hospitals with online tools and guidelines, identify best practices and link doctors and others with experts to help integrate palliative care into their emergency departments.