Implementing a geriatric trauma palliative care program

The geriatric (≥65 years of age) population is one of the fastest growing age groups in the United States. As this number increases, so does the number of geriatric trauma patients. Because this group has higher mortality rates and requires more resources, a Geriatric Trauma Palliative Care Program was created at a Level 1 Trauma Center in Dallas, TX, to provide concurrent lifesaving therapies and primary palliative care to older adults. The trauma program implemented the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Trauma Quality Improvement Program Palliative Care Best Practices Guidelines (ACS, 2017) to better care for acute traumatic injuries as well as the specific spiritual, emotional, and psychiatric needs of the geriatric trauma palliative care patient and family. Using the guidelines, the team performed a gap analysis, carried out program development, created a palliative care pathway to guide our evidence-based practice implementation, and performed retrospective chart reviews for 3-month pre- and postimplementation analysis. Using Person's χ2 test and Fisher's exact test, our initial evaluation of the program showed statistically significant (p < .001) improvements in the measures related to the implementation of primary palliative care, pain and symptom management, and end-of-life care. The guidelines gave the team a consistent framework for implementing the basic competencies required to deliver primary palliative care, pain and symptom management, and end-of-life care to trauma patients.

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