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Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing

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DOI: 10.1097/DCC.0000000000000451


Despite evidence regarding the value of palliative care, there remains a translation-to-practice gap in the intensive care setting. The purpose of this article is to describe challenges and propose solutions to palliative care integration through the presentation and discussion of a critical care patient scenario. We also present recommendations for a collaborative palliative care practice framework that holds the potential to improve quality of life for patients and families. Collaborative palliative care is characterized by close working relationships with families, interprofessional intensive care unit healthcare teams, and palliative care specialists. The shortage of palliative care specialists has become a pressing policy and practice issue and highlights the importance of increasing primary palliative care delivery by the intensive care team. Underexplored aspects of collaborative palliative care delivery include the interprofessional communication required, identification of key skills, and expected outcomes. Increased recognition of intensive care unit palliative care as a process of engagement among nurses, providers, patients, and their family members heralds a vital culture shift toward collaborative palliative care. The interprofessional palliative specialist team has the expertise to support intensive care teams in developing their primary palliative skills and recognizing when specialist palliative care support is required. Promotion of strategic palliative care delivery through this collaborative framework has the potential to decrease suffering among patients and families and reduce moral distress among healthcare professionals.


Accepted version. Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, Vol. 40, No. 1 (January/February 2021): 51-58. DOI. © 2021 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc. Used with permission.

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