This unique opportunity to see a patient, as both an oncologist and as a palliative care physician, gave me a chance to reflect on how and when to incorporate palliative care into oncology practice. Over the past few years, there has been robust interest in promoting the role of palliative care in oncology, and additional evidence has emerged supporting the importance of palliative care. Every year, my colleagues and I participate in the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO’s) Quality Oncology Practice Initiative, where oncology physicians (including fellows) evaluate charts on more than 150 quality metrics. I was very pleased to see that among other important measures of quality and performance of oncology providers, several measures specific to palliative care—for example, pain management documentation, referral to palliative services, and hospice enrollment—are now included.1
Additionally, ASCO recently announced its strong backing of the bill for the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, which supports the growing field of palliative care by establishing up to 24 palliative care education centers at medical schools across the United States.2 While we are learning how to treat cancer during fellowship, we must also learn to integrate palliative care into the management of our patients. Discussing palliative care with our patients and families is a vital part of providing individualized and comprehensive care.
- Measures overview. American Society of Clinical Oncology Institute for Quality website. http:// www.instituteforquality.org/qopi/measures. Accessed March 1, 2016.
- Partridge AH, Seah DS, King T, et al. Developing a service model that integrates palliative care throughout cancer care: the time is now. J Clin Oncol. 2014;32(29):3330- 3336. doi: 10.1200/ JCO.2013.54.8149.