Jefferson Physician’s Empathy Leads Research Questions

Geoffrey Koff, M.D., is a critical care physician in Jefferson’s medical intensive care unit. As an intensivist at a tertiary care hospital, Dr. Koff and his colleagues treat patients with the most serious health concerns.

“Both our patients and their families endure a great amount of pain and stress during their stay in the ICU,” said Dr. Koff. “I wanted to explore which patients choose palliative care services to ease that suffering and when.”

His empathy and compassion for his patients and their families inspired him to conduct a research study, which he will present at the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s 44th Annual Congress. The study’s abstract was selected for the Congress’ 2015 Ethics/End of Life/Palliative Care Specialty Award.

Dr. Koff and his co-authors found that patients with a cancer diagnosis used palliative care services earlier than patients who did not have a cancer diagnosis. Of importance, the use of palliative care does not require that a patient stop life-saving treatment, but rather focuses on relief and prevention of pain and other symptoms for patients with serious illness and support for their families.

“I believe that patients with a cancer diagnosis may seek palliative care services sooner as a result of increased communication regarding end-of-life between healthcare providers and patients and their families in non-ICU settings,” said Dr. Koff, “I hope our future research will evaluate the frequency of these conversations in outpatient settings for patients with life-limiting diagnoses.”

Learn more about Jefferson’s Palliative Care services and expertise in Critical Care Medicine.

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