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Emergencies in Palliative Care

Schrijvers, Dirk MD, PhD; van Fraeyenhove, Frank MD

doi: 10.1097/PPO.0b013e3181f28a8d
Special Issue on the Role of the Oncologist in Palliative Care

Palliative care emergencies are emergencies in patients with an incurable disease that may lead to death or decreased quality of life. During the palliative care phase of a patient's life, they differ from other medical emergencies and are mainly focusing on symptom control, whereas disease-oriented treatments are less important. Palliative care emergencies can occur on the physical, emotional, and existential field. They involve not only the patient but also the family and sometimes the health care professional. Palliative care emergencies that are addressed are pain, acute dyspnea, major bleeding, acute function loss, acute anxiety, delirium, epileptic seizures, acute decompensation with aggressive behavior of the nonprofessional caregiver, and planning for predictable emergencies.

From the Department of Hemato-Oncology, Ziekenhuisnetwerk Antwerpen-Middelheim, Antwerp, Belgium.

Reprints: Dirk Schrijvers, MD, PhD, Department of Hemato-Oncology, Ziekenhuisnetwerk Antwerpen-Middelheim, Lindendreef 1, B-2020 Antwerp, Belgium. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.