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Use of Palliative Care Consultation for Patients with End-Stage Liver Disease: Survey of Liver Transplant Service Providers



Palliative care services (PCS) are recommended to enhance quality of care for hospitalized patients.


We evaluated the attitudes of liver transplant (LT) providers and perceived barriers to PCS for their patients by conducting a web-based survey of intensive care unit nurses, postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) physician trainees, nurse practitioners, fellows, and attending physicians on the LT service at an academic medical center.


The response rate was 44% (88/200). Providers agreed that LT and PCS are not mutually exclusive (86%, n = 76). Respondents reported confusion regarding criteria and timing for referral to PCS. Most suggested that referral is appropriate when death is imminent (78%, n = 69). Many providers felt that patients' depression (66%, n = 58) was poorly managed, although few identified that PCS were consulted for depression (28%, n = 25). Overall, 84% (n = 74) identified attending physicians as the main barrier to involving PCS, and attendings (93%, n = 82) were more likely than PGY1 (67%, n = 59) and nurses (55%, n = 48) to describe PCS as end-of-life care (p = 0.03). Nearly all LT providers agreed that patients welcomed goals of care discussions (83%, n = 73), were grateful for PCS (96%, n = 85), and received higher quality care with PCS (96%, n = 85).


LT providers overwhelmingly report that PCS benefit patients and are consistent with LT goals even while patients are listed for LT. Barriers to PCS include confusion over referral criteria and describing PCS as end-of-life care by attending physicians. PCS teams may expand access for LT patients by establishing clear criteria for PCS referral and targeting educational interventions about palliative care to attendings.

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