ASCO 15 – Early palliative care in an inpatient oncology setting improved outcomes and satisfaction

Sadly, I am not actually AT ASCO, the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology which is taking place in Chicago this year.

However thanks to the modern day marvels of social media I was able to watch this lecture  by Dr Riedel and a team at Duke University Medical Centre.

Dr Riedel introduced  a model where palliative physicians ( “palliatricians”. What do you think? I love a neologism, myself….) co-rounded with the oncologists in the inpatient oncology unit.

Statistically significant reductions in length of stay (LOS), 7 and 30 day readmissions, and ICU admissions were demonstrated. Nurse and doctor satisfaction was increased. Nurses felt the quality of care was improved.

All the medical oncologists surveyed felt that the palliatricians added to the care of the patient and that they learned some stuff about symptom management. I know I learn heaps when I round with medical oncologists! Communication and collaboration was improved.

It was a shame they didn’t look at patient satisfaction, but hopefully that might happen in future.

Seen anything interesting coming out of ASCO this year?


National Palliative Care Week 2015 at Alfred Health

How would you choose to live, if you were diagnosed with a life-threatening illness?

What are the most important things in your life? What can’t you live without?

Pal and Carey - #NPCW15 mascots #dyingtotalk

Pal and Carey – #NPCW15 mascots #dyingtotalk

The theme of National Palliative Care Week (24-30th May) this year is “Dying to talk; talking about dying won’t kill you”. In fact, talking about how you want to live and die can be empowering and bring you closer to those who matter most to you. On the other hand, not talking about it can lead to regret – both for you but also for those you leave behind.

As part of National Palliative Care Week, the Palliative Care Service at Alfred Health hosted a public forum on Monday, discussing the topic: “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying”, based on a book by Australian palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware.

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Vital talk – resources for improving your communication skills

Have picked up some great tips from these guys when I have seen them at palliative conferences.

Communication skills are something that you can always improve, even if you have been in the field for a long time!

The site offers videos with examples of communication skills and also cheat sheets of suggestions on how to structure difficult conversations.

Do you find them useful?

Elsewhere in the Palliverse – Weekend Reads

I have so many links to share with you. Here are a few of them:

Australian critical care doctor and blogger Andy W writes about death and taxes and asks, “…why is it that we seem to spend so much time talking about the taxes, and not nearly enough about death?” Thought-provoking stuff. “The Things That Are Certain“, The Flying PhD

Death isn’t failure. But avoiding these conversations is.” UK Palliative Care Physician Katherine Sleeman shares her story in this beautiful piece, “While medicine gets better, dying gets worse: Doctors are so good at saving lives that we forget about death.” (The Independent UK) Continue reading

#thickenedliquidchallenge with @DrMukeshH: Do thickened fluids benefit people with swallowing problems?

The team at GeriPal started the Thickened Liquid Challenge to raise awareness of the use of thickened liquids (or thickened fluids, as I know them) for people with swallowing difficulties. Thickened fluids are frequently prescribed to people with swallowing difficulties, but the evidence for their long-term benefit is unconvincing, as GeriPal’s Dr Eric Widera explains. In addition, they are unpleasant (as you will see from the videos!) and may result in reduced fluid intake and dehydration. You can read more about it (and watch many videos of the challenge) at GeriPal. Continue reading

FREE Palliative Care Trivia Nights Friday 29 May 2015 for #NPCW15

Palliative Care Australia is hosting a number of FREE trivia nights across Australia during National Palliative Care Week, to raise community awareness of palliative care. Trivia nights will be held on Friday 29th May, 2015, In Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Tickets can be booked for no cost via the Palliative Care Australia website. Prizes are available.

Please consider attending, inviting friends and sharing via social media. Of course, attendees do not need to be affiliated with palliative care – in fact, if they have no knowledge of palliative care, all the better to raise awareness.

Palliverse team members will be at the Melbourne and Perth (and maybe other) trivia nights and we hope to see you there.

Periscope – the latest #SoMe for spreading the Palliative Care message?

Has anyone tried Periscope, the new live-streaming video app from Twitter? I used it earlier this week to watch an interview via health journalist (and all round social media star @croakeyblog) Melissa Sweet’s Periscope account. I’m unsure of the potential of this new app at the moment (it could be a great medium for the #thickenedliquidchallenge) but will try it out this weekend when I’m in Melbourne for the Medicine Social health and social media event. (Palliverse’s own Sonia Fullerton is one of the speakers.) You can watch live or on replay for 24 hours after the event.

If you’d like to play along, you can download the app here and follow @palliverse (and @Elissa_Campbell while you’re at it). I think it’s only for iOS at this stage – sorry Android users.

Melbourne 16 May 2015: Unique healthcare social media event

Posters from the 11th Asia Pacific Hospice Conference


Here is a collection of posters from the recent Asia Pacific Hospice Conference in Taipei – primarily by researchers and clinicians from Australia and New Zealand. Enjoy!

IMG_4012 IMG_4040 IMG_4042 IMG_4057 IMG_4060 IMG_4063 IMG_4064 IMG_4066 IMG_4102 IMG_4114 IMG_4121 IMG_4122 IMG_4123 IMG_4124ICC versus pleurodesisPC in disasters

Reflections from Taipei – 11th Asia Pacific Hospice Conference


Over 1300 delegates from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond congregated in the Taipei International Conference Centre at the beginning of May for the 11th Asia Pacific Hospice Conference (APHC). With a theme of “Transforming Palliative Care”, there was a particular focus on public health and the development of palliative care in countries where it is not yet well established. It was wonderful to meet clinicians, policymakers, teachers and researchers from near and far – from China to the Philippines, Mongolia to Saudi Arabia, Argentina and the United Kingdom – and discuss shared problems and discover new ways of doing things!

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