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Palliative Care for Patients With Heart Failure: Results From a Heart Failure Society of America Survey

      ABSTRACT

      Background

      Multiple guidelines recommend specialty palliative care (PC) for patients with heart failure (HF), including patients with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs). However, the degree of integration and clinicians’ perceptions of PC in HF care remain incompletely characterized.

      Methods and Results

      A 36-item survey was sent to 2109 members of the Heart Failure Society of America. Eighty respondents (53% physicians), including 51 respondents from at least 42 medical centers, completed the survey, with the majority practicing in urban (76%) academic medical centers (62%) that implanted LVADs (81%). Among the 42 unique medical centers identified, respondents reported both independent (40%) and integrated (40%) outpatient PC clinic models, whereas 12% reported not having outpatient PC at their institutions. A minority (12%) reported that their institution used triggered PC referrals based on objective clinical data. Of respondents from LVAD sites, the majority reported that a clinician from the PC team was required to see all patients prior to implantation, but there was variability in practices. Among all respondents, the most common reasons for PC referral in HF were poor prognosis, consideration of advanced cardiac therapies or other high-risk procedures and advance-care planning or goals-of-care discussions. The most frequent perceived barriers to PC consultation included lack of PC clinicians, unpredictable HF clinical trajectories and limited understanding of how PC can complement traditional HF care.

      Conclusion

      PC integration and clinician perceptions of services vary in HF care. More research and guidance regarding evidence-based models of PC delivery in HF are needed.
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