Radiologist as a palliative care subspecialist: providing symptom relief when cure is not possible



McCullough HK. Bain RM. Clark HP. Requarth JA.
Department of Radiology, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.
The radiologist as a palliative care subspecialist: providing symptom relief when cure is not possible.
AJR. American Journal of Roentgenology. 196(2):462-7, 2011 Feb.


The purpose of this study was to determine the percentage of patients referred to an interventional radiology (IR) practice who need palliative care and to examine the training required for a diplomate of the American Board of Radiology (ABR) to qualify for the hospice and palliative medicine certifying examination.
Materials and Methods:
This retrospective study reviewed all patient referrals to an academic vascular and IR practice during the month of August 2009. The demographics, underlying diagnosis, and the type of procedures performed were ascertained from the electronic medical record. The requirements for a diplomate of the ABR to obtain certification as a hospice and palliative medicine subspecialist were evaluated and summarized.
Two-hundred eighty-two patients were referred to the IR service and underwent a total of 332 interventional procedures. Most of the patients (229 [81.2%]) had underlying diagnoses that would warrant consultation with a hospice and palliative medicine subspecialist; these patients were significantly older (58.5 vs 44.7 years; p < 0.01) and underwent more procedures (1.21 vs 1.02; p < 0.01). To obtain a subspecialty certification in hospice and palliative medicine, a radiologist needs certification by the ABR, an unrestricted medical license, 2 years of subspecialty training in hospice and palliative medicine, 100 hours of interdisciplinary hospice and palliative medicine team participation, active care of 50 terminally ill adult patients, and successful performance on the certification examination.
Procedures related to palliative care currently compose the majority of our IR cases. Certification in hospice and palliative medicine can be achieved with a modest investment of time and clinical training.