Mastodon Surgical Clinics of North America revisits Palliative Care ~ Pallimed

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Surgical Clinics of North America revisits Palliative Care

I can't get enough of this month's Surgical Clinics of North America (April 2011).  Thoughtfully presented, the entire issue creates a three dimensional view of palliative care in surgery.

Dedicated to Jack Zimmerman, MD, FACS, who helped establish one of the first hospices in the US while Chief of Surgery at Church Home and Hospital in the 1970s, Surgical Clinics of North America presents a well-rounded and well-thought through collection of papers on Updates in Palliative Surgery.  Geoffrey Dunn's introduction outlines the successes of our field, while also honestly presenting the challenges to its growth - from the limited research funding to the heated political arena, even daring to use the term "death panel."  He generously credits our field with as being "a timely lens through which the socioeconomic and spiritual bankruptcy of the current health care system [...]"

In addition to setting the stage of our field in general, the Clinics dares to delve into concepts of spirituality in surgical and palliative care, the importance of introspection for surgeons, the value of interdisciplinary collaboration, and bereavement in critical care.  Overview of palliative medicine in critical care settings, the importance of early palliative care in oncology and in lung cancer.

For seasoned palliative care physicians, our eyes are opened to topics on emerging research on palliative surgical interventions and image-guided palliative care procedures.  To add some zest, the reader even gets to travel to Haiti, when Dr. Huffman recounts her "riveting account of her riveting experience last year in earthquake-devastated Haiti, which demonstrates the very essence of surgical palliative care - an intuitive response to the mitigation of suffering and the restoration of hope using the insights and skills we are privileged to have to share as surgeons." (This perspective is one that my good friend and respected colleague Laura Lambert has shared with me of her many years volunteering in Haiti as a surgeon.)  Ronald Martin, MD - COL, USAR, MC writes from Afghanistan, "At its core, thinking about our discipline in a 'palliative' way forces us to differentiate between what we can do and what we should do."

I, for one, will add every article to my library.  And Dr. Dunn - we'll stand by you in your challenge to your colleagues when you share, "the surgical world has too many seriously ill people in its care and too much to to offer the seriously ill with all its diagnoses to not assume a leadership role for the continued growth and development of palliative care."

Here is the Table of Contents (no article is open access, there are some free editorials):

Spiritual Dimensions of Surgical Palliative Care 
Inpatient Palliative Care Consultation: Enhancing Quality of Care for Surgical Patients by Collaboration 
Palliative Medicine in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit and Trauma 
Care of the Family in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit 
Palliative Surgical Oncology 
Communication Skills in Palliative Surgery: Skill and Effort Are Key 
Image-Guided Palliative Care Procedures 
Palliative Care in Lung Cancer 
Palliative Care and Pediatric Surgery 
Palliative Care in Urology 
Surgical Palliative Care in Haiti 

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