Palliative Care Consultation is Associated with Decreased Rates of In-Hospital Mortality Among Patients Undergoing Major Amputation


      • Palliative care was consulted for 12% of patients during admission for first major amputation.
      • Undergoing through knee amputation and receiving an amputation for acute limb ischemia were associated with increased rates of palliative care consultation.
      • Palliative care consultation was associated with decreased rates of in-hospital mortality.


      Despite advancements in medical care and surgical techniques, major amputation continues to be associated with risks for morbidity and mortality. Palliative care programs may help alleviate symptoms and align patients’ goals and the care they receive with their treatment plan. Access to specialty palliative medicine among vascular surgery patients is limited. Here, we aim to describe utilization and impact of formal palliative care consultation for patients receiving major amputations.


      This is a retrospective, secondary data analysis project examining the records of patients who received major amputations by the vascular surgery team between 2016 and 2021. Demographics, operative, and postoperative outcomes were recorded. The primary outcome variable was palliative care consultation during index admission (the admission in which the patient received their first major amputation). Secondary outcomes were in-hospital mortality and code status at the time of death, if death occurred during the index admission, location of death, and discharge destination.


      The cohort comprised of 292 patients (39% female, 53% Black, mean age 63), who received a lower extremity major amputation. Most patients (65%) underwent amputation for limb ischemia. One-year mortality after first major amputation was 29%. Average length of stay was 20 days. Thirty-five (12%) patients received a palliative care consultation during the hospitalization in which they received their first major amputation. On multivariable analysis, patients were more likely to receive a palliative care consult during their index admission if they had undergone a thorough knee amputation (OR = 2.89, P = 0.039) or acute limb ischemia (OR = 4.25, P = 0.005). A formal palliative care consult was associated with lower likelihood of in-hospital death and increased likelihood of discharge to hospice (OR = 0.248, P = 0.0167, OR = 1.283, P < 0.001).There were no statistically significant differences in the code status of patients who received a palliative care consultation.


      In a large academic medical center, palliative medicine consultation was associated with lower in-hospital mortality among patients with advanced vascular disease and major limb amputation. These data will hopefully stimulate much needed prospective research to develop and test tools to identify patients in need and derive evidence about the impact of palliative care services.
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