May 12, 2020
We are rationing in the US. We may not be explicitly rationing, as we're going to discuss on this podcast, but we are rationing - in the way we allocate fewer tests and less PPE to nursing homes compared to hospitals, in the way we allow hospitals and states to "fend for themselves" resulting in those hospitals/states with better connections and more resources having more PPE and testing availability. And in some parts of the world, ICU and ventilator resources are scare, and they are rationing by age. We talked on our last podcast about decisions Italy made to ration by age, and on this podcast we talk about two countries in South America we have heard are using age as a criteria for rationing ventilators. In this context, we are fortunate to welcome Tim Farrell, Associate Professor of Geriatrics at the University of Utah and Vice Chair of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) Ethics Committee, and returning guest Doug White, Vice Chair and Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In our prior podcast with Doug we talked about his University of Pittsburgh (and colleagues) policy for allocation of scarce resources that has been adopted by over a hundred hospitals. Today's podcast is focused on the release of the AGS guidelines for allocation of scarce resources and the accompanying paper that explains the ethical rationale behind the AGS ethics committee's decisions. Both papers are available now on the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS) COVID19 webpage. We talk about how the AGS and Pittsburgh guidelines are far more similar than different, and the ethical principles that led them to make the choices they made, and how these choices have evolved over time. The two issues we cover in depth are: (1) Should age be used to ration scarce resources? How should age be used, if at all, as an "up front" consideration, or a "tiebreak?" And (2) How should we account for socioeconomic determinants of health in resource allocation decision making? Stay healthy and safe, and keep doing the good work that you're doing, GeriPal listeners. -@AlexSmithMD
May 8, 2020
The cross-over episode is an American tradition that is near and dear to my heart. My childhood is filled with special moments that brought some of my very favorite characters together. Alf crossed over with Gilligan's Island. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air crossed over with The Jeffersons. Mork and Mindy crossed with Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley at the same time. To honor this wonderful tradition, GeriPal is crossing over with the Surgical Palliative Care Podcast for this weeks podcast! The Surgical Palliative Care Podcast is hosted by Dr. Melissa "Red" Hoffman. Red is both an acute care surgeon and hospice and palliative medicine physician in North Carolina. She has been podcasting since this beginning of this year and my goodness she has been quite busy in doing so. Her podcast featured some of the founders and the leaders of the surgical palliative care community, including Dr. Balfour Mount (the father of Palliative Care in North America), Robert Milch, Zara Cooper, and Diane Meier. That's an amazing lineup. We also welcome Joe Lin as a co-host for this topic. Joe is a surgery resident and palliative care fellow at UCSF. We talk to both Joe and Red about - How they got interested in the intersection of surgery and palliative care - How the culture of surgery and palliative care differ (and the misconceptions that both fields have of each other) - What the day in the life of a surgical palliative care physician looks like - A recent article in JAMA Surgery titled "Palliative Care and End-of-Life Outcomes following High-Risk Surgery" - What palliative care skills all surgeons should have (primary palliative care) - And lots of other topics! So take a listen and check out Red's Surgical Palliative Care Podcast (
May 6, 2020
We are delighted to have Dani Chammas, psychiatrist and palliative care physician, back on the GeriPal podcast to talk about emotional PPE. None of us can recall who originated the term, but we've all heard it bandied about much needed for front line providers treating patients with coronavirus. Headlines about the New York emergency room doctor committing suicide are likely only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the trauma, distress, and moral injury taking place. We talk with Dani about key issues and questions, including: - What is trauma? What is moral injury? - Is this a big deal? What evidence do we have? - What can we do about it? Dani goes over 3 broad buckets of responses, organized with the letter C: Connection, Culture, and Coping. - Normalizing rather than stigmatizing clinicians seeking mental health support We also decided to add a page to GeriPal titled "emotional PPE" with a list of resources for providers caring for patients with COVID, and we will link to that page once it's up. Please visit for the following important mental health resources for providers: - The NYC COVID Worker Care Network - Pro-Bono Counseling for Frontline Physicians and APCs - Physician Support Line. - Disaster Distress Help Line - How to be a Catalyst of Calm in COVID19 -@AlexSmithMD
April 30, 2020
What's the role of geriatrics and palliative care in the care of individuals with COPD? We talk this week with Anand Iyer, the lead author of this weeks JAMA IM article on this subject. It's a little off from our ongoing COVID topics, but given that his along with his co-authors (Randy Curtis and Diane Meier) JAMA IM piece just got published, we figured now is the right time to highlight #PalliPulm. What is #PallPulm? #PalliPulm is something that Anand Iyer founded, and is an online community of clinicians, investigators, patients, and others interested in the intersection of palliative care and geriatrics. Anand is also an Assistant Professor in Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and faculty at the Center for Palliative and Supportive Care at UAB. Anands research on this subject has shown a lot of things, including that COPD patients are often referred too late to palliative care and hospice, pulmonologists often equate hospice with palliative care, there is high symptom and emotional needs in COPD patients, and that patients and family members feel palliative care should be integrated early on in the care of COPD. Links to the following articles can be found on this blog post at - A Qualitative Study of Pulmonary and Palliative Care Clinician Perspectives on Early Palliative Care in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - A Formative Evaluation of Patient and Family Caregiver Perspectives on Early Palliative Care in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease across Disease Severity - End-of-Life Spending and Healthcare Utilization Among Older Adults with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease We also talk about this podcast with David Currow on the use of opioids in dypsnea: -Opioids for Breathlessness: A Podcast with David Currow So take a listen and join the conversation at #PalliPulm! by: @ewidera
April 28, 2020
Many of you listened to our prior podcast with Jim Wright and David Grabowski about COVID in long term and post acute care settings. In this follow up podcast, we talk about the situation in long term and post acute care in Indiana with Kathleen Unroe, Associate Professor at Indiana University, a scientist at the Regenstief Institute, and a PI of Optimistic and founder of Probari, and Ellen Kaehr, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Indiana University and geriatrician and medical director of a nursing home. A few highlights to wet your appetite: - About 2/3 of the Ellen's nursing home is COVID positive. This has led to so many challenges - how did this happen? (asymptomatic staff). How to cohort? Issues with PPE, with transitions to the hospital, with visitors. - We talked about the unique impact of COVID on people with dementia. For example, mobile persons with dementia wander, which has negative aspects, but does keep them functional/mobile. Now they're confined to their rooms and at much higher risk for debility/decline. They're also noticing a loss of orientation due to lack of structured activities. - We talk about the impact on Assisted Living Facilities, something that Kathleen has been thinking about increasingly from a policy perspective. There are twice as many people living in assisted living facilities as nursing homes. And yet assisted living facilities have received scant attention in this epidemic. - Impact on providers. This has been so hard. And clinicians and staff are working so hard to meet this challenge. How can we support each other during this difficult time? And they chose an AWESOME song, Paradise by the late great singer songwriter John Prine, who sadly died of COVID related illness. I couldn't help but overlay a few harmonies on the vocal track. Sing along! -@AlexSmithMD
April 25, 2020
We were asked by Sean Morrison, Chair of the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, to compose a brief GeriPal video of thanks, support, and gratitude for all of the hard work they are doing in New York. These videos are played every Friday during the Mt. Sinai's Town Hall. Prior guests include Tom Brokaw, Mandy Patinkin, Martha Stewart, and Liz Gilbert. August company indeed! Here is our video link: - This one is probably better watched as a video than as a podcast, though either will work. At GeriPal, we are happy to do what we can to support, inform, and entertain those working hard on the front lines, whether it be in New York, Detroit, Seattle, New Orleans, Indiana, Chicago, or wherever you may be. Special guests from UCSF include: Rebecca Sudore, Steve Pantilat, Pei Chen, Natalie Young, Louise Walter, Brie Williams, Anne Fabiny, Ken Covinsky, and Sandra Moody. -@AlexSmithMD
April 23, 2020
The peak hospitalizations and deaths in New York City hit around April 7th. Life though in hospitals in New York though have not returned to normal. What were previously operating rooms, post-hip fracture units, or cardiac cath labs, are now units dedicated to the care of individuals hospitalized with COVID. We talk with two NYU clinicians, Ab Brody and Audrey Tan about what life is like right now in this new state of limbo as both palliative care clinicians and as their role as either a NP hospitlist or Emergency department physician. Ab Brody is the Associate Director of the Hartford Institute for Geriatrics Nursing at NYU. Audrey is the Director of Emergency of Medicine and Palliative Care in the Department of Emergency Medicine at NYU. We are also welcoming back our guest host Nauzley Abedini from UCSF. A couple of topics that we talk about include: - What's life like right now at NYU post-surge? - What's it like to look at the COVID crises in the lens of a palliative care consultant and their role as a primary provider in the ED or the hospital? - Geriatric issues that they are seeing in the ED or the wards. - How they are recognizing and dealing with morel distress? - The worry about PTSD and the worry for our workforce post this pandemic. - The stress that not only comes with work but also what it's like to go home by: Eric Widera (@ewidera)
April 21, 2020
In today's podcast we talk with Zara Cooper, Rachelle Bernacki, and Ricky Leiter about the state of COVID at the Brigham and Women's hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston. While they have flattened the curve somewhat in Boston, they're still seeing huge numbers of seriously ill Covid patients in Massachusetts. They have 143 out of their ~1000 bed hospital filled with COVID19 patients, including 78 Covid patients in ICU, many of which are followed by palliative care. This has resulted in the need to drastically restructure the palliative care team, including: - Embedding palliative care in the ED. They quickly found that if they waited for consults, they got not calls, and had to proactively go out and find consults in the ED. By demonstrating their usefulness, acceptance has increased. - Embedding palliative care in the ICU. These experiences are hard. Zara Cooper, who works as an intensivist in the ICU (as well as surgeon, as well as palliative care doc, as well as researcher, as well as superwoman) relates the ethical dilemmas and moral distress associated with providing care in the ICU. Ricky Leiter talks about how hard it is emotionally for the palliative care teams, how the cadence of our usually palliative care consult becomes compressed in these cases, and how their teams are dealing with the challenges of prognostic uncertainty, video meetings, and not being able to see patients in person. - Their first instinct was to protect the fellows from COVID19 patients. The fellows rebelled. They wanted to be involved, and now they are, and are functioning as an integral part of the response. All of this and more, including forgiving yourself if due to these extreme circumstances you can't give "gold star" palliative care, but maybe "bronze star" is enough? For links to the, Covid Protocols, and the Ariadne Labs COVID Response Toolkit, please visit our Covid page at or our website at -@AlexSmithMD
April 14, 2020
"It's not about's about connection." - Keri Brenner This week's podcast features a dynamic duo of palliative care psychiatrists, Dr. Keri Brenner from Stanford, and Dr. Dani Chammas from UCSF. Dani was a huge hit as a guest on one of our earliest podcasts talking about "Formulations in Palliative Care." This week, Keri and Dani talk about "Therapeutic Presence," an important concept in both psychiatry and palliative care (links to articles about this concept and application at They describe 3 key ingredients of therapeutic presence, including being deeply attentive, naming (I'd call it complex naming), and creating a safe "holding space" for patients' emotions. But come on, you might say, we're in the midst of a pandemic. How can we maintain a therapeutic presence in a zoom meeting with family members you've never met, or with a patient who has a disease that could spread to you and infect not only you but your family. Keri and Dani speak to the challenge of taking on the strong emotions we're all feeling during this pandemic - anxiety, fear, and the unique vulnerability this disease places on us as health care providers. They note high rates of depression, anxiety, and other adverse mental health outcomes for healthcare workers in China who dealt with COVID. This was an awesome podcast. It was like a therapy session for our collective GeriPal souls. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. To stay up to date on relevant links, check out our new COVID page at -@AlexSmithMD
April 10, 2020
The vast majority of hospice services are delivered in patient's homes or other places of residence like nursing homes. This makes the traditional model of hospice care vulnerable in this coronavirus pandemic, especially in the era of social distancing and limited personal protective equipment (PPE). So how are hospice's responding to the COVID-19 pandemic? On this weeks podcast, we talk to two leaders of two large hospice agencies, Drs. Kai Romero and Todd Cote, to get their views on this question. Kai is the Chief Medical Office of Hospice by the Bay in California. Todd is the Chief Medical Officer at Bluegrass Care Navigators in Kentucky. It's inspiring to hear how these hospices and others are stepping up to the challenge of caring for both COVID positive and non-COVID positive patients during this time. Among subjects we talk about include: - The variability how this pandemic is affecting hospices in how they are responding to COVID (even if they take COVID positive patients) - Supply limitations (PPE, medications, etc) - The role of telemedicine in hospice visits and the challenges with trying to do some hospice visits virtually - How COVID influences prognostic eligibility to hospice - Special issues in vulnerable populations like homeless and rural populations Check out our new COVID page at for important links we talk about in this podcast as well as previous COVID podcasts.
April 6, 2020
Imagine that you are the medical director of a large (>150 bed) nursing home. Two-thirds of the patients in the home now have COVID-19. Seventeen of your patients are dead. The other physicians who previously saw patients in the nursing home are no longer coming to your facility because you have COVID positive patients. You're short on gowns and facemasks. You're short on nurses and nurse aids so now you have to help deliver meals. This is what Dr. Jim Wright, the medical director at Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in suburban Richmond is living through right now. I felt overwhelmed just listening to Jim talk about his experience since mid-March, and am so grateful that he joined to talk about COVID in the long term care setting, along with David Grabowski, author of the JAMA piece titled "Postacute Care Preparedness for COVID-19 - Thinking Ahead." A couple key points that I learned from Jim's experience. The first point is that half of patients who tested positive were asymptomatic, so you really don't know who has it or who doesn't unless you test everyone. The only thing you really know is that if you have 5 symptomatic patients who test positive for COVID, assume there are at least 5 asymptomic patients. The second point is that there seems to be different clinical courses for those who are symptomatic that David summarized as the following: - Indolent course, deadly: Initial 24-28 hours of fever and severe respiratory symptoms. Then Stabilization for 3-5 days. Then decompensation on days 5-7 with death within 24 hours - Indolent course, convalescence 1. Fortunately, the majority of our patients. Same course as indolent to death although continued improvement over 7-10 days. - Acute respiratory failure: Symptoms begin with fever and acute respiratory failure with death within 6-12 hours. - Sepsis-like picture: Sudden onset of AMS, hypoxia and hypotension without fever. A small subset of patients in our experience. All have tested positive for COVID (may simply have been asymptomatic carriers who developed sepsis independently In the second half of the podcast David Grabowski walks us through the challenges facing nursing facilities and potential solutions to the looming crisis in long term care, including - creating COVID only specialized post acute care settings - increasing the level of home health care and hospital-at-home model - whether nursing homes that don't yet have COVID should be forced to take COVID+ patients form hospitals. So listen up and comment below. Also, check out some of our past COVID podcasts and new resources on our new COVID page at
April 3, 2020
In today's podcast we talk with Audrey Chun, Professor in the Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Sheila Barton, a social worker in the Geriatrics practice at Mt. Sinai. Mt. Sinai has a HUGE outpatient geriatrics service, with a mean age of 85. We talk with Audrey and Sheila about the challenges they face in overcoming obstacles. Everything is harder now, such as how to get basic needs met for older adults isolating in the community, such as food and assistance with basic activities with daily living. Higher order concerns are challenging as well, including conducting advance care planning conversations with patients and family members over the phone, and finding a home hospice agency willing to care for a COVID positive patient. We talked as well about this article by Jason Karlawish arguing that caregivers are essential health workers who should be allowed into hospitals to care for their older at-risk-of-delirium relatives. Oy. Tough times. One thing Audrey and Sheila emphasize repeatedly is how supported they feel by their health system, by volunteers, and even from their own patients who message them with words of encouragement and kindness. New Yorkers are tough, but they also have big hearts and rally around one another time and time again when faced with challenges. On additional note, if you'd like to sign up for palliative care COVID discussions, here's a link to sign up to participate in weekly chats, thanks to Zachary Sager and Leslie Blackhall. -@AlexSmithMD
March 31, 2020
In the latest in our series of talking with front line providers in the midst of the COVID pandemic, we talk with Drs. Craig Blinderman, Shunichi Nakagawa, and Ana Berlin of the palliative care service at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. We cover a host of topics, including the urgent need to conduct advance care planning with our outpatients (including Craig's new Epic dotphrase below, and guide to COVID advance care planning); the need to be flexible to suit shifting demands; to stock up on iPads to engage patients/family members in goals of care discussions from outside the room. We mention the new JAMA papers on "informed assent" to DNR/I orders by Randy Curtis and colleagues (and Craig's prior JAMA paper), and on rationing scarce resources by Doug White and Bernie Lo (see also our prior podcast on rationing with Doug with links to the practical framework). I cried after this one. Maybe it was Ana talking about how hard it was have an agenda when discussing goals of care with the family of a 90 year old woman with dementia. We're taught in palliative care to match patient/family goals, and to not bring an agenda. But we do have an agenda now, as Ana says. The patient will not survive a code or prolonged intubation. Coding her would expose Ana's colleagues to COVID, and use scarce PPE and ICU resources, including a ventilator. We can't check that agenda at the door anymore. This is hard. You can hear their moral distress as they talk through these experiences. Maybe it was the three of them talking about the pace of change. Last week they felt "impotent" as they awaited the coming storm. Then the ICU called; they want palliative care. Then the ED called; they want palliative care. Today Shunichi spent the entire day having goals of care conversations with likely COVID patients and their families in the crowded ED. Today they say they want a new inpatient palliative care service, ASAP, maybe even tomorrow. They thought they would have until next week. The tsunami hit Wednesday. Maybe it was Ana saying her daughter had a fever and might have COVID, and that one thing she is thankful for is that kids are spared serious illness. Maybe it was the song choice, the Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen, with its inspirational and haunting message. Craig says he chose this song because the lyrics are about standing up to meet the challenges faced by the most vulnerable. As he notes, COVID is the AIDS crisis of our day. We're all in this together. -@AlexSmithMD FYI - for links to referenced material, please visit our website at
March 26, 2020
New York is the current epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the US, with over 30,000 confirmed cases as of March 25th. Hospitals and ED's are seeing a surge of patients, and geriatrics and palliative care providers, like Cynthia Pan, are doing their best to meet the needs of these patients and their family members. Today, we talk with Dr. Pan, the Chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Care Medicine, and the current attending on the palliative care service at New York-Presbyterian Queens, located in Flushing, New York. In our discussion we talk about what it is like to be on the front lines right now, lessons learned during this surge, and how she is managing the distress in caring for these patients.
March 23, 2020
Many of us with clinical roles are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Today we hear from Dr. Darrell Owens, DNP, MSN, head of palliative care for the University of Washington's Northwest campus, a community hospital in Seattle. The UW Northwest hospital has born the brunt of the COVID epidemic in one of our nation's hardest hit areas. Darrell has stepped up the the plate in remarkable, aspirational ways. First, he is on call 24/7 to have goals of care conversations with elderly patients in the emergency department under investigation for COVID who do not have an established a code status. On the podcast Darrell walks us through the language he uses to speak with these patients about the poor outcomes of CPR and ventilation among older adults with COVID. We note on the podcast that the Center to Advance Palliative Care recently put together Toolkit for COVID including a thoughtful communication guide spearheaded by Tony Back and our friends at VitalTalk. Second, Darrell has established an inpatient palliative care service at his hospital for patients on exclusively comfort measures. Darrell and his team admit and are first call for these patients. This service off-loads the hospitalists so they can care for other patients. Darrell talks with us about the challenges of titrating medications for symptomatic patients when you're trying to minimize using protective equipment going in and out of the room, and the challenges of returning home from work to his family after treating patients with COVID all day. By closing let me repeat two things from the podcast. First, we too can and should step up to the plate. By engaging patients in goals of care discussion at the time of admission we are likely to help patients reach different decisions than they otherwise might have made had discussions occurred with rushed and less skilled clinicians (i.e. the usual code status discussion). Before we get to rationing, we can and should engage patients in the highest quality informed goals of care discussions. The results of these informed discussions are likely to decrease the need for scarce ICU beds and ventilators. That is why Darrell is specifically on call for these conversations. Simply put, we do it better. We have the best skill. Further, like Darrell, we too can create or expand inpatient palliative care services to provide the best possible care for these patients and free up hospitalists and others to meet the growing clinical needs due to the pandemic. Second, Eric and I have never been prouder of our fields. Every day we hear stories of geriatricians, palliative care clinicians, and bioethicists rising to the occasion to meet needs of this moment. As Eric notes, we will found out a great deal about ourselves and what we stand for these next few weeks and months. Thank you for all that you do. -@AlexSmithMD
March 19, 2020
You are caring for two adults with COVID-19. One who is a previously healthy 70 year old. One is 55 with multiple medical comorbidities. Both are now requiring mechanical ventilation, but there is only one ventilator left in the hospital and all attempts to transfer the patients to another hospital for care have failed. Which patient would you give the life saving treatment to and why? On today's podcast with talk with Doug White, Professor of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, and James Frank, Professor of Medicine and fellowship director for the UCSF Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Fellowship, about this type of tragic choice that we may soon be making if we do not flatten the curse on the COVID-19 pandemic (for more on that, check out our last podcast with Lona Mody). If you don't think that would be even remotely possible, just read this quote from a NEJM article that came out yesterday: Quote: "Though the physicians I spoke with were clearly not responsible for the crisis in capacity, all seemed exquisitely uncomfortable when asked to describe how these rationing decisions were being made. My questions were met with silence — or the exhortation to focus solely on the need for prevention and social distancing. When I pressed Dr. S., for instance, about whether age-based cutoffs were being used to allocate ventilators, he eventually admitted how ashamed he was to talk about it. 'This is not a nice thing to say,' he told me. 'You will just scare a lot of people.'" In our podcast we reference a fair amount of articles and resources. Links to the following articles and resources can be found on our website at : - Who Should Receive Life Support During a Public Health Emergency? Using Ethical Principles to Improve Allocation Decisions. Annals of Internal Medicine - Principles for allocation of scarce medical interventions. Lancet 2009 Definitive Care for the Critically Ill During a Disaster: A Framework forAllocation of Scarce Resources in Mass Critical Care. Chest 2008 - Too Many Patients…A Framework to Guide Statewide Allocation of Scarce Mechanical Ventilation During Disasters. Chest 2019 - Meeting the challenge of pandemic influenze: ethics guidance for leaders and health care professionals in the Veterans Health Administration - Ventilator Allocation Guidelines:New York State Task Force on Life and the LawNew York State Department of Health - NYT interview with Italian ICU director in Bergamo, Italy. Truly sobering and it’s clear that many patients are dying after being triaged to no ICU/ventilation. - Flattening the curve infographic - Excellent illustration of how surge capacity will be increased as it relates to ICU staffing
March 18, 2020
Covid19 is changing the way we interact with each other (from 6 feet away or via Zoom) the way we care for out patients (increasingly by video or telephone) and for some unfortunate few, the way we die (alone, in a hospital for days, isolated from family and friends). This is the first podcast in a series of podcasts about Covid 19. In this first podcast we talk with Lona Mody, Professor of Medicine at Michigan Medicine and John Mills, Associate Epidemiologist with Michigan Medicine. We cover terminology, epidemiology of the disease, and what we can do to protect our older and vulnerable patients. We also provide a new suggestion for a 22 second song you can sing while washing your hands in lieu of happy birthday (some of us are sick of singing happy birthday so many times a day). Our next podcast, to be released tomorrow, will be with Doug White and James Frank on the ethics of rationing ventilators. In both podcasts, we refer to this New York Times Daily podcast with Dr. Marco in Milan Italy titled, “It’s Like a War.” Every day they admit 50-70 patients with severe pneumonia due to Coronavirus infection to their 1000 bed hospital. More than half of the hospital is filled with Coronavirus infections. 460 nurses are home sick or in home quarantine due to contact with infected patients. They’re admitting their colleagues. 20 patients died from Coronavirus in one day. He talks about rationing ICU beds by age. He says, “My colleagues, both physicians and nurses, they cry everyday.” Important take away from both podcasts: Flatten. The. Curve. Now. -@AlexSmithMD
March 12, 2020
Project ENABLE is a landmark palliative care intervention. And yet, I will admit (Eric did too) we didn’t really understand what it was. So we interviewed ENABLE founder Dr. Marie Bakitas and ENABLE distinguished protégée Dr. Nick Dionne-Odom to learn more about ENABLE. During the interview, we learned a great deal about ENABLE, how it has evolved, iterated, and shifted over time to include persons with diseases other than cancer, minorities with serious illness, and caregivers. We break the results of ENABLE CHF-PC, a planned plenary abstract presentation for the State of the Science meeting that was supposed to happen next week (here’s a link to the published abstract About that State of the Science. Yeah. Well, as you probably know the State of the Science, the AAHPM/HPNA/SWHPN meeting, and the GeriPal/Pallimed pub crawl have been cancelled, for all the right reasons. Er, reason. Covid19. So sadly, this will not be an oral presentation next week, but you can still hear all about it here on this podcast! We’d like to express our gratitude to the organizers of AAHPM/HPNA/SWHPN and the SOS meeting, including the staff of these organizations, planning chairs, and committees. They put in countless hours preparing for what would have been the largest palliative care meeting of all time. Thank you for all you’ve done! And yes, Marie and Nick forced me to sing Taylor Swift. Sorry! -@AlexSmithMD
March 5, 2020
"Tell me about the problems you have with your medications." A simple open-ended question that is probably rarely asked, but goes beyond the traditional problems that clinicians worry about, like non-adherence, inappropriate prescribing, and adverse reactions. What do you find when you go deeper? Well we talk with Francesca Nicosia and Mike Steinman about the work they have done around deprescribing and medication related problems, including a recent JGIM study that attempts to better understand patient perspectives on medication-related problems. This study also gives a pretty fascinating picture of where the overlap and divergence is between what patients and physician see as medication related problems as shown in this figure from the article: In addition to medication related problems, we talk about some other important updates in deprescribing, including their work in the newly formed US Deprescribing Research Network and new pilot awards of up to $60,000 in funds to catalyze investigator initiated research projects around deprescribing. by: Eric Widera (@ewidera)
February 27, 2020
Home-based palliative care is booming. And with the growth of home-based palliative care come unique struggles and challenges: how can it be financed, what does the ideal team look like (or do you need a team?), retaining clinicians who may feel isolated doing this work, identifying patients who are most likely to benefit. In this week's podcast we talk about these and other issues with Brook Calton, home-based palliative care physician in the Division of Palliative Medicine at UCSF and Grant Smith, a recent graduate of UCSF's palliative medicine fellowship now faculty at Stanford. To supplement our podcast, Grant has written a series of thought pieces that flesh out and complement our discussion. His first reflection was published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine last month. We will post one additional reflection per day for the next three days. Hope you enjoy my attempt at a Southern drawl while singing! -@AlexSmithMD
February 20, 2020
On this week's podcast we have the honor of talking with David Reuben about health care for older adults and how it's time to think different. It really is a smörgåsbord of topics, ranging from how to think about population health for older adults (and how we as individuals providers can provide at least some level of population health), the UCLA Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Program and its outcomes, Medicare Advantage for All, working with community partners through voucher systems, and tips for leading change. Dr. Reuben is Director of the Multicampus Program in Geriatrics Medicine and Gerontology and Chief of the Division of Geriatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is also the Archstone Foundation Chair and Director of the UCLA Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center and the UCLA Alzheimer's and Dementia Care program. If you want to read more about some of the topics, check out these links on our website at - Patient and Caregiver Benefit From a Comprehensive Dementia Care Program: 1‐Year Results From the UCLA Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Program - The Effect of a Comprehensive Dementia Care Management Program on End‐of‐Life Care - UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program Website
February 13, 2020
We had fun on this in-studio podcast with Dan Matlock, geriatrician and palliative care clinician researcher at the University of Colorado, and frequent guest and host on GeriPal. We most recently talked with Dan about Left Ventricular Assist Devices and Destination Therapy. Today we talked with Dan about Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators (ICD) and Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) - everything a geriatrician or palliative care clinician should know. Dan and his team have developed a number of terrific decision aids around ICD implantation (see, and have seen uptake and use of these decision aids skyrocket following CMS's mandate requiring an shared decision making interaction prior to ICD implantation. Enjoy! -@AlexSmithMD
February 6, 2020
In this week’s podcast we talk about food insecurity in older adults with UCSF’s Hilary Seligman, MD. Hilary has done pioneering work in this area. Some of this work was funded by Archstone Foundation (full disclosure: Archstone is a GeriPal funder). Hilary's expertise runs the gamut from federal nutrition programs (including SNAP), food banking and the charitable feeding network, hunger policy, food affordability and access, and income-related drivers of food choice. I have a confession. I knew almost nothing about food insecurity before this podcast. Is it hunger? Why should we think about food insecurity and health in the same sentence? Why is this an issue for older adults in particular? I was absolutely blown away by what I learned in this podcast. I have since quoted Hilary Seligman 4 or 5 times in other meetings. Food insecurity is one of those topics that people don’t talk about but is likely far more critical to the health and well-being of the people we care about than other topics we spends gobs of time and money on (e.g. cholinesterase inhibitors for dementia). So take a listen and if you want to take a deeper dive in some of the topics we talked about, check out the links for this blog post at or Enjoy! -@AlexSmithMD
January 30, 2020
Should Geriatric Assessments be part of the routine ontological care for older adults with cancer? On this weeks podcast we attempt to answer this question with national experts in Geriatric Oncology: Dr. Supriya Mohile from the University of Rochester and William Dale from City of Hope, as well as UCSF's Melissa Wong. Lucky for us, they also have a little evidence on their side thanks to a recently published JAMA Oncology article that they authored titled "Communication With Older Patients With Cancer Using Geriatric Assessment - A Cluster-Randomized Clinical Trial". We discuss not only the trial results, but also: - reasons why geriatric principles is important in oncology - what a geriatric assessment includes - who should do a geriatric assessment (including does it need a geriatrician?) We also talk about these resources if you want to take a deeper dive in geriatric oncology: - ASCO's Geriatric Oncology page - ASCO's guideline for geriatric oncology by: Eric Widera (@ewidera) P.S. Please visit our blog page at for links to the referenced material above.
January 23, 2020
You’ve probably heard patients say, “Of course I’m depressed, I’m dying. Wouldn’t you be?” This is a fundamental question - to what extent are depressive symptoms “normal” at the end of life? To what extent are they maladaptive, a fancy word for psychological conditions that have a negative impact on your life. In this week’s GeriPal podcast we talked with Elissa Kozlov, a psychologist-researcher at Rutgers, and Claire Ankuda, a palliative care physician-researcher at Mt. Sinai about their JAGS paper describing the epidemiology of depressive symptoms in the last year of life. This was an interesting conversation, as Drs. Kozlov and Ankuda are pushing the boundaries of how we conceptualize depressive symptoms near the end of life. Their work suggests that depression is far more common than we suspect clinically. And they chose a great song - Hurt as arranged by Johnny Cash (not the Nine Inch Nails original). Enjoy! -@AlexSmithMD
January 16, 2020
Do opioids improve breathlessness? A simple question that unfortunately doesn't seem to have a simple answer. We get into the nitty-gritty of potential answers to this question with a preeminent researcher in this field, David Currow. David is a Professor of Palliative Medicine at University of Technology Sydney. His research has challenged common practices in Hospice and Palliative Care, including randomized control trials on oxygen for breathlessness, octreotide for malignant bowel obstruction, and antipsychotics for delirium in palliative care patients. His most recent study was published in Thorax titled "Regular, sustained-release morphine for chronic breathlessness: a multicentre, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial." It showed no differences between those that got sustained-release morphine and those that got placebo in regards to breathlessness, but the intervention arm did use less rescue immediate-release morphine. We talk to David about how to interpret these results, as well as what to make out of the broadened inclusion criteria and whether there was an issue with the primary outcome. Other articles we reference in the podcast include: * The safety study: No excess harms from sustained-release morphine: a randomised placebo-controlled trial in chronic breathlessness * And the oxycodone SA study: Controlled-Release Oxycodone vs. Placebo in the Treatment of Chronic Breathlessness-A Multisite Randomized Placebo Controlled Trial. by Eric Widera, @ewidera
December 19, 2019
In this weeks podcast we talk with Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, general internist, Professor of Medicine and Epi/Biostats at UCSF, and chair of a National Academies of Sciences task force on Integrating Social Care into the Delivery of Health Care. See Kirsten's JAMA paper summary here (, and the full report here ( This podcast spans the gamut from the individual clinician's responsibility to be aware of the social needs of their patients and impacts on health (think homeless person with no place to store their insulin), and adjustment to meet these needs (such as keeping on oral medications), to larger health policy issues including the need to integrate health and social policy. This was a fun podcast, as you'll hear. This is a topic that lends itself well to discussion. Eric really pushes this issue: to what extent are meeting the our patient's needs for housing, transportation, and food a health issue? Are these issues that a doctor should care about, and why? And our rendition of "Waiting on the World to Change" was perfect in every possible way!!! Enjoy! by: Alex Smith, @AlexSmithMD GeriPal is funded by Archstone Foundation ( Archstone Foundation is a private grantmaking foundation whose mission is to prepare society in meeting the needs of an aging population
December 5, 2019
On this weeks podcast we talk to Julie Bynum on the question "Do Nurses Die Differently?" based on her recent publication in JAGS titled "Serious Illness and End-of-Life Treatments for Nurses Compared with the General Population." Julie is a Professor of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at the University of Michigan, and Geriatric Center Research Scientist at the Institute of Gerontology, as well as a deputy editor at the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Overall, Julie's study found small differences in end of life care for both dementia and CHF as seen in the chart on our blog post at One can think of these numbers as so small of a difference that there really isn't a difference. With that said, my favorite part of this interview is Julie's take on this difference, which is that while the difference is small, there is a difference ("There is a signal!"). This means "I know it can be different, because it is different." by: Eric Widera
November 27, 2019
We have had some amazing guests on our Podcast. True luminaries in geriatrics and palliative care. This week we are fortunate to be joined by none other than Mary Tinetti, MD, to talk about her recent JAMA Internal Medicine trial of Patient Priorities Care ( In this study of older adults with multiple chronic conditions, patients are guided through a process of identifying their health priorities and objectives, and this information is communicated to their primary care physicians. The trail resulted in more medications discontinued, fewer self-managment and diagnostic tests, and less report of treatment burden. This podcast builds on our prior podcast on this topic with Aanand Naik (awesome song choice, Lumineers' Gun Song). We talk with Mary Tinetti about what exactly Patient Priorities Care is, how it differs from geriatrics and palliative care (or does it?), and how to disseminate this program widely (hint: start by going to their amazing website at And...ah...Mary made me sing Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon. My deepest apologies to fans of Joni Mitchell... by: @AlexSmithMD
November 20, 2019
On today's podcast we take a moment to celebrate 100 episodes of the GeriPal podcast. Yes, 100 episodes that have covered everything from cranberry juice for UTIs to medical aid in dying. In this episode, Anne Kelly, Lynn Flint and Ken Convinsky lead us down memory lane, asking Alex and me hard hitting questions about the birth of the podcast, our favorite episodes, and our most memorable moments. We also take time to listen to the feedback that we received from our call in listener line (929-GeriPal) and maybe, just maybe, a song is sung to celebrate the occasion. Lastly, we also have two very special thank you's. First is to Archstone foundation, who just became GeriPal's first sponsor! It's really is an honor to be backed by such a wonderful organization with a mission so aligned with our podcast. We also want to thank all of our listeners for your support and encouragement. It is really touching every time we hear some feedback about our shows and we love it when we hear that you are sharing our show with others. So join us for this episode (warning - there is audience participation in a song at the end) by: Eric Widera (@ewidera)
November 14, 2019
Nursing homes are a tough place to do palliative care. There is extremely high staff turnover, physicians are often not present except for the occasional monthly visit, many residents die with untreated symptoms usually after multiple hospitalizations and burdensome life-prolonging treatments, and specialty palliative care - well that is nowhere to be found in most nursing homes outside of hospice. So what can we do to improve the palliative care outlook in nursing homes? On todays podcast we talk with Lieve Van den Block about her recent palliative care intervention that was published in JAMA IM this week. Lieve led a multicomponent intervention to integrate basic nonspecialist palliative care in in 78 nursing homes located in 7 different European countries. Just take a moment to grasp the size of this study - 7 counties, 78 nursing homes. I struggle with just trying to improve palliative care in one site! We discuss with Lieve the results of the study, her take on why they got the outcomes that they did, and her view on a path forward to improving palliative care in these settings. We also have the authors of the accompanying JAMA IM editorial with us too (that was easy, it was Alex and our recurring guest host Lauren Hunt.) So take a listen and tell us what you think in the comments below, on social media, or on our GeriPal phone # (929-GeriPal).
October 31, 2019
A recent study by Vince Mor published in JAMA Oncology found that veterans with advanced lung cancer treated in Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers with high hospice use were more likely to receive concurrent cancer care and also less likely to receive aggressive care. On top of that, veterans treated at facilities with high levels of hospice use also incurred lower costs of care. This is a strong case for the concept of concurrent care in which individuals can avoid the "terrible choice" between hospice and life prolonging therapies. On this weeks podcast, we interview the lead author, Vince Mor, about this study and whether concurrent care is ready for prime time outside of a integrated health care system like the VA. We also put a plug in the end for the NIA Imbedded Pragmatic AD/ADRD Clinical Trials (IMPACT) Collaboratory that Vince is helping to lead. If you want to learn more about the collaborators, please check out our GeriPal website at for links to this and other info. by: Eric Widera
October 24, 2019
Do you remember the scene from the movie The Graduate where Ben's dad says, "One word: Plastics"? Well, I write this blog post from the National Palliative Care Research Center's annual Foley retreat, a who's who of palliative care researchers. The words on everyone's lips: "Lay Health Navigators." This is not to draw equivalency between environmentally destructive materials and people who help those with serious illness and caregivers navigate our complex health care system. Rather, it's to point out that revolutions occur in palliative care research just as they do in business. In this week's podcast, we talk with Kate Possin, PhD and Sarah Dulaney, RN CNS of UCSF about the Care Ecosystem project. In this remarkable study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, lay health workers helped caregivers of persons with dementia navigate the health care system by providing support, education, and care coordination with dementia specialists. The intervention was mainly by telephone, with about 1 phone call per month. Results were remarkable, including improved quality of life for persons with dementia, reduced emergency department visits, and reduced caregiver depression and burden. As Nick Dionne-Odom pointed out yesterday, "Caregiving in dementia is a monumental task. There is tremendous room for improvement." Listen or read on for more! Also - be sure to check out the outstanding Care Ecosystem website: The training materials are all FREE to use! by: @AlexSmithMD
October 17, 2019
Before we get into this week's topic, would you please take 1 MINUTE to complete this GeriPal survey! It will really help us out. We swear, only 1 minute! Click the link below to access the survey (or copy and paste in your browser). Thank you! GERIPAL SURVEY Now on to this week's topic... Alex: What do you get when you mix a doctor and an architect? Eric: An Archidoc? Alex: No a Dochitect. What do you get when you mix a gerontologist with an architect? Eric: A gerontolitect? Alex: No an environmental gerontologist. OK, so we didn't have that EXACT conversation on this podcast, but something close to it. There is a growing recognition that many of the settings where older adults receive healthcare are not designed to meet the needs of older adults. The early part of this movement resulted in the Americans with Disabilities Act, which mandated such things as accessibility for persons with wheelchairs. But it so much more than that. The architecture of health care buildings can actually impair the health of older adults or people living with serious illness - think lack of windows, rooms designed around beds, and placement close to noisy workspaces. Can you say delirium??? Re-designed spaces also have the potential to improve outcomes for older adults and people with serious illness. Further, redesigned spaces can improve quality of life for healthcare providers, and those benefits may be passed on to our patients. To discuss these fascinating issues we talked with Dochitect Diana Anderson, MD, M. Arch (UCSF geriatrics fellow) and Emi Kiyota, PhD, environmental gerontologist. Click here ( to learn more about Diana and links to her publications, and here ( to learn more about Emi and her website Ibasho, Japanese for "a place where one can feel at home and be oneself." Enjoy! by: @AlexSmithMD
October 10, 2019
What happens in Long Term Acute Care Hospitals, or LTACHs (pronounced L-tacs)? I've never been in one. I've sent patients to them - usually patients with long ICU stays, chronically critically ill, with a gastric feeding tube and a trach for ventilator support. For those patients, the goals (usually as articulated by the family) are based on a hope for recovery of function and a return home. And yet we learn some surprising things from Anil Makam, Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCSF. In his JAGS study of about 14,000 patients admitted to LTACHs, the average patient spent two thirds of his or her remaining life in an institutional settings (including hospitals, LTACs and skilled nursing facilities). One third died in an LTACH, never returning home. So you would think with this population of older people with serious illness and a shorter prognosis than many cancers, we would have robust geriatrics and palliative care in LTACHs? Right? Wrong. 3% were seen by a geriatrician during their LTACH stay, and 1% by a palliative care clinician. Ouch. Plenty of room for more research and improvement. Read or listen for more! See also this nice write up by Paula Span in the New York Times, and this prior study on geographic variation in LTACH also by Anil. Please also note that our 100th podcast approaches! Please call 929-GERI-PAL to let us know what is working and what can be better about GeriPal. You might make it on the air! by: Alex Smith @AlexSmithMD
October 3, 2019
Ok, I'll admit it. When I hear the phrase "the biology of aging" I'm mentally preparing myself to only understand about 5% of what the presenter is going to talk about (that's on a good day). While I have words like telomeres, sirtuins, or senolytics memorized for the boards, I've never been able to see how this applies to my clinical practice as it always feels so theoretical. Well, today that changed for me thanks to our podcast interview with John Newman, a "geroscientist" and geriatrician here at UCSF and at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. In this podcast, John breaks down what geroscience is and how it impacts how we think about many age-related conditions and diseases. For example, rather than thinking about multimorbidity as the random collection of multiple different clinical problems, we can see it as an expression of the fundamental mechanisms of aging. This means, that rather than treating individuals diseases, targeting aging pathways may be a better way to prevent or ameliorate multimorbidity. We talk with John about this, and current trials underway to test this hypothesis, along with so much more! If you're interested in taking a deeper dive in the subject, take a look at these papers that John co-authored: - From discoveries in ageing research to therapeutics for healthy ageing. Nature 2019 - Creating the Next Generation of Translational Geroscientists. JAGS 2019 by: Eric Widera (@ewidera) Note: To view the YouTube version, links to the research papers, and/or the transcript for this episode, please visit our GeriPal website at:
September 26, 2019
Joanne Lynn, a geriatrician and palliative care physician who leads Altarum’s work on eldercare, wrote a recent JAGS editorial titled The “Fierce Urgency of Now”: Geriatrics Professionals Speaking up for Older Adult Care in the United States” which is very much a call to action for those who care for older adults. We talk with Joanne about this article and some meaningful things clinicians in both geriatrics and palliative care can do to be advocates for a growing population of older adults. One way I would like to plug to better advocate for our patients is through our national societies. To learn more what both AAHPM and AGS are doing to improve care for older adults and those with serious illness, and to learn how you can help lead change, check out the following links: - AAHPM’s advocacy page - - AGS’s Health in Aging Advocacy Center - So check out the podcast and pick one thing that you can do to better advocate for older adults or those living with serious illness. Eric (@ewidera)
September 19, 2019
You're the attending physician on a teaching service. Your resident says we shouldn't order a CT because CT's are over-used for this condition, and represent overuse, waste, and low-value care. In this case, however, you suspect that's not the resident's real reason. The real reason behind the resident's decision is that they are serial minimizers - residents who make little of potentially important findings. You feel they might be hiding their minimizing behind the sexy, trendy notion of providing "high value care." Does this sound familiar to you? It did to me. I've been in the awkward situation of being the consulting palliative care physician saying to the primary team, I know they have cancer and that's the most likely explanation for this abdominal pain. I also worry that this pain is out of proportion and different from other pain I've seen, and I think it should be evaluated with further testing. Kind of strange to say that as the palliative care doctor. Kind of strange as well to hear that perspective exposed by Chris Moriates and Vinny Arora, who spend most of their academic careers fighting against wasteful low-value tests and treatments (they run a non-profit called Costs of Care). To be sure, they note this problem is not as great as overuse of consultants, tests, and treatment. The challenge, as Stephanie Rogers our guest host (and guest fiddle player!) points out, is coming up with the right words to teach "right sizing" care to the patient in front of us. And what are the root causes of minimizing? Blame the house staff would be the easy way out, but Chris and Vinny don't take that road. Read more about their thoughts in this article in the Journal of Hospital Medicine and listen to or read our podcast! -Alex @AlexSmithMD Note: For links to referenced articles as well as a transcript of this episode, please visit our blog page at
September 13, 2019
On this weeks podcast, we talk with Krista Harrison about the life of individuals living with moderate dementia, as well as what we know about their caregivers. Krista is is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Geriatrics at UCSF, a social scientist, and something that we learned in this podcast, someone who knows a thing or two about singing opera. Krista recently published a JAGS paper titled "Care Settings and Clinical Characteristics of Older Adults with Moderately Severe Dementia." In this paper, which we discuss in the podcast, she gives us a snapshot of older adults in the United States who have experienced the onset of moderately severe dementia within the past year. We learn that 2/3'rds of these individuals are living in the community. Interestingly, older adults living at home were 2 to 5 times more likely to be members of disadvantaged populations and had more medical needs. In the podcast we discuss some potential reasons why this may be the case, along with what role geriatricians and palliative care doctors can play in the care of these individuals. So take a listen and let us know what you think. Also, take a peek at Joanne Lynn's editorial on Krista's paper, which includes a suggestion to create a default path similar to how obstetrics works. Eric (@ewidera)
September 5, 2019
In this week's podcast we talk with Lew Cohen, MD, about his new book "A Dignified Ending: Taking Control Over How We Die." Eric and I approached reading this book with trepidation. We feared it would be a polemic defending physician aid in dying. It is not. Dr. Cohen does not hide his beliefs and opinions. He also does not shy away from the complexity of the issue - he interviews leading disability rights activists and challenges leaders of the aid in dying movement. His book is filled with stories of the people and family, doctors and activist who have defined this movement. As Eric says, he takes the controversy meter up to 11 with notions of approving aid in dying and euthanasia for progressive neurological conditions such as dementia (with thoughtful safeguards). We challenge Lew, somewhat forcefully at times. Personally, I disagree with many of his stances (as you will hear/read), but I can respect how thoughtfully he's gone about putting together his study of the issue. As Dr. Cohen notes, no issue seems to activate the strong emotion centers of our brain like aid in dying. In this time of extreme polarization, it's critical that we engage in thoughtful and respectful communication about aid in dying. - Alex Smith, MD
August 6, 2019
In this week's GeriPal podcast we talk with Stacy Fischer, MD and Regina Fink, RN, PhD, both from the University of Colorado, about a lay health navigator intervention to improve advance care planning with Latinos with advanced cancer. The issue of lay health navigators raises several issues that we discuss, including: - What is a lay health navigator? - What do they do? How are they trained? - What do lay health navigators offer that specialized palliative care doesn't? Are they replacing us? - What makes the health navigator intervention particularly appropriate for Latinos and rural individuals? For advance care planning? Eric and I had fun singing in French (yes French, not Spanish, listen to the podcast to learn why). Enjoy! Alex Smith, MD
August 1, 2019
This week we talk with BJ Miller, hospice and palliative care physician, public speaker, and now author with Shoshana Berger of the book "A Beginner's Guide to the End." As we note on the podcast, BJ is about as close as we get to a celebrity in Hospice and Palliative Care. His TED Talk "What Really Matters at the End of Life" has been viewed more than 9 million times. As we discuss on the Podcast, this has changed BJ's life, and he spends most of his working time engaged in public speaking, being the public "face" of the hospice and palliative care movement. The book he and Berger wrote is filled to the brim with practical advice. I mean, nuts and bolts practical advice. Things like: - How to clean out not only your emotional house but your physical house (turns out there are services for that!) - Posting about your illness on social media (should you post to Facebook) - What is the difference between a funeral home and mortuary - Can I afford to die? How much will it cost? We focus our discussion with BJ on his reasons for writing the book, sexuality and serious illness, and priming people to check the instincts of a medical system that favors aggressive/intensive/invasive care and crappy deaths. And BJ came up with some nice harmonies to "Tonight, You Belong to Me." Enjoy! AlexSmithMD
June 21, 2019
This weeks podcast is all about the intersection of geriatrics, palliative care, advanced care planning and surgery with our guest Dr. Vicky Tang. Vicky is an assistant professor and researcher here at UCSF. We talk about her local and national efforts focused on this intersection, including: * Her JAMA Surgery article that showed 3 out of 4 older adults undergoing high risk surgery had no advance care planning (ACP) documentation. * Prehab clinics and how ACP fits into these clinics * The Geriatric Surgery Verification Quality Improvement Program whose goal is to set the standards for geriatric surgical care including ACP discussions prior to surgery * How frailty fits in and how to assess it (including this paper from JAGS on the value of the chair raise test) So take a listen and enjoy this informative podcast. You can also check out associated links that can be found in this podcast on our website at:
June 14, 2019
There are few names more closely associated with palliative care than Diane Meier. She is an international leader of palliative care, a MacArthur "genius" awardee, and amongst many other leadership roles, the CEO of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC). We were lucky enough to snag Diane for our podcast to talk about everything we always wanted to ask her, including: * What keeps her up at night? * Does palliative care need a national strategy and if so why and what would it look like? * The history of CAPC and the leadership centers * Advice that she has for graduating fellows who want to continue to move palliative care forward as they start their new careers * What she imagines palliative care will look like in 10 or 15 years? * What is the biggest threat facing palliative care? We hope you join us for this great podcast!
June 6, 2019
In this week's podcast, we talk with Dr. Ira Byock, a leading palliative care physician, author, and public advocate for improving care through the end of life. Ira Byock wrote a provocative and compelling paper in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management titled, "Taking Psychedelics Seriously." In this podcast we challenge Ira Byock about the use of psychedelics for patients with serious and life-limiting illness. Guest host Josh Biddle (UCSF Palliative care fellow) asks, "Should clinicians who prescribe psychedelics try them first to understand what their patient's are going through?" The answer is "yes" -- read or listen on for more!
May 30, 2019
In this week's podcast we talk with Louise Aronson MD, MFA, Professor of Geriatrics at UCSF about her new book Elderhood, available for purchase now for delivery on the release date June 11th. We are one of the first to interview Louise, as she has interviews scheduled with other lesser media outlets to follow (CBS This Morning and Fresh Air with Terry...somebody). This book is tremendously rich, covering a history of aging/geriatrics, Louise's own journey in medicine and as a geriatrician facing burnout, aging and death of family members, filled with stories of patients, etc. We focus therefore on the main things we think our listeners and readers will be interested in. First - why the word "Elder" and "Elderhood" when JAGS/AGS and others recently decided that the preferred terminology was "older adult"? Second - Robert Butler coined the term ageism in 1969 - where do we see ageism in contemporary writing/thinking? We focus on Louise's delectable takedown of Ezekiel Emanuel's Atlantic Article "Why I hope to Die at 75" Third- Louise's throws down the guantlet to the field of geriatrics. She argues that we have held too narrow a view of ourselves as clinicians for the oldest old and frailest frail. Instead, we should expand our vision of the field to include all older adults - including healthy 60/70 year olds & healthy aging - and become the default clinicians for all people entering life's last stage. Elderhood is a terrific read, and you are listeners/readers will all be inspired by the ideas, moved by the stories (you will identify with them), and challenged to re-imagine our clinical practice. (apologies - I had a cold so sort of struggle through the singing, far different from my usual perfect rendition!) Enjoy!
May 2, 2019
In this week's GeriPal podcast we discuss the research into delirium with a focus on prevention. We are joined by internationally acclaimed delirium researcher Sharon Inouye, MD, MPH. Dr Inouye is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Aging Brain Center in the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife.
April 25, 2019
Estimating prognosis is hard and clinicians get very little training on how to do it. Maybe that is one of the reasons that clinicians are more likely to be optimistic and tend to overestimate patient survival by a factor of between 3 and 5. The question is, aren't we better as palliative care clinicians than others in estimating prognosis? This is part of our training and we do it daily. We got to be better, right?
April 5, 2019
On today's podcast we talk with one of the national experts on multimorbidity, Melissa Wei. Dr. Wei is an Assistant Professor and physician researcher at the University of Michigan. In addition to destroying the lyrics to Bohemian rhapsody, we talk to Dr. Wei about how we should conceptualize multi morbidity, it's impact on older adults, and about her recent JAGS publication titled "Multimorbidity and Mental Health-Related Quality of Life and Risk of Completed Suicide."
March 25, 2019
In this weeks GeriPal podcast we take a deeper dive into this issue of language and medicine. We are joined by guests Anna DeForest, MD, MFA, a resident in Neurology at Yale, and Brian Block, MD, a pulmonary critical care fellow at UCSF.
March 14, 2019
Our first live podcast at the annual meeting for the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine! We invited Rachelle Bernacki and Jo Paladino to discuss their two papers published today on the the Serious Illness Care Program.
March 8, 2019
As Eric notes in the introduction, this recent study in JAMA by Jeff Williamson and colleagues led to some very contradictory headlines. Some headlines proclaimed that lowering blood pressure prevents dementia, and others stated the opposite, that lowering blood pressure does not prevent dementia. So what exactly did the study show? Do these results apply to patients we commonly see in Geriatrics? What should we make of the fact that after the trial was stopped early the blood pressures in the lower blood pressure target group rose - does this mean you can't achieve intensive blood pressure lowering "in the real world"?
February 15, 2019
In the 1990s, Susan Tolle helped create the POLST. Now she and Elizabeth Eckstrom want to change it. And personally, I think they're right.
February 8, 2019
On this week's podcast we have Bridget Sumser, a clinical palliative care social worker, board member for the Advanced Palliative Hospice Social Worker certification exam, and now co-author of a new book "Palliative Care: A Guide for Health Social Workers".
January 30, 2019
Three reasons you should listen to this podcast: The issue of patients cycling back and forth between the hospital and skilled nursing facilities near the end of life is common, will ring true to those of you who are clinicians, and has largely been ignored in the literature. It's about a hot off the press article published today in the NEJM. Lynn Flint, Palliative care doc at UCSF in the Division of Geriatrics, first author, and our guest, makes me sing "Hit Me Baby One More Time" by Brittany Spears. This moment is either a new high or a new low for the GeripPal podcast, I can't tell which. You really need to listen to the final seconds when Eric joins in singing, "still believe" in high falsetto.
January 23, 2019
Geriatrics teaches us that older adults with infections often present with non-specific symptoms rather than typical localizing symptoms of infection present in younger adults. Sometimes they present with fever, delirium, malaise, or fatigue. In today's GeriPal/JAGS joint podcast, Jeff Caterino challenges this common teaching by examining the extent to which non-specific symptoms are predictive of infection for older adults presenting to the emergency department. Turns out - they're not so predictive as you might think!
January 8, 2019
May Hua's study addresses the still unanswered question - do specialized palliative care consults in the ICU do anything? She looked a number of outcomes comparing ICU patients in hospitals with and without palliative care consults. While most outcomes were similar, rates of hospice use were higher in hospitals with palliative care teams.
December 21, 2018
On todays Podcast we talk with Marian (Emmy) Betz about firearm safety, including how to counsel individuals with dementia about guns. Emmy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and has written some pretty amazing papers on the subject of firearm safety.
December 14, 2018
In this week's GeriPal podcast we talk with Tim Girard, Plumonary Critical Care physician-researcher at the University of Pittsburgh about his study NEJM study of Haloperidol vs. Ziprasidone vs. Placebo for ICU delirium in critically ill patients.
December 7, 2018
On this weeks podcast we are talking with Aanand Naik about his recent JAGS article titled "Development of a Clinically Feasible Process for Identifying Individual Health Priorities".
November 21, 2018
We thought it would be an excellent time to talk about substance use in older adults as many of us gather around the Thanksgiving dinner table with our extended families. We invited Ben Han, a geriatrician and Assistant Professor of Medicine in Geriatrics at NYU, to talk about the research that he has done in this area. In particular, we talked with Ben about the recent increase in substance use in older adults with the rising baby boomer generation, including use of alcohol, marijuana, heroin and prescription opiate misuse, and other drugs.
November 14, 2018
In this week's GeriPal podcast we interview Randy Curtis, Professor of Medicine and Pulmonary Critical Care and Director of the Palliative Care Center of Excellence at the University of Washington. We address the question: how do we get more patients with chronic and serious illness to engage in goals of care conversations with their doctors.
November 2, 2018
On this weeks podcast, we invited Rebecca Sudore to talk about the results of her PREPARE randomized trial that was published in JAMA Internal Medicine this week. The trial enrolled nearly 1,000 English and Spanish speaking older adults being cared for in a public hospital. The headline results showed that after reviewing the PREPARE For Your Care online program and the easy-to-read advance directive, 98% of older adults reported increased engagement in advance care planning (ACP) and 43% had new ACP documentation in their medical record. Even more good news, PREPARE worked equally well among English and Spanish-speakers and across health literacy levels.
October 22, 2018
In this week's GeriPal podcast we talk with Guy Micco, MD, a longtime bioethicists, internist, hospice physician, teacher in the UC Berkeley and UCSF Joint Medical Program, mentor, and friend. Guy and I wrote an article recently for the journal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine about the intersection and issues between the fields of geriatrics, palliative care, and bioethics. The main thrust of the paper is that we need a workforce that is trained in the principles of all three fields to take the best care of the very sick, the very frail, and the very old. And for those of you who listen, Guy sings a great rendition of Hello in There, by John Prine: sweet, sad, and sentimental. Chorus: You know that old trees just grow stronger And old rivers grow wilder every day Old people just grow lonesome Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, Hello." Enjoy!
October 5, 2018
All the Questions You Had About Opioids But Were Afraid To Ask: A Podcast with Mary Lynn McPherson by Alex Smith and Eric Widera
September 26, 2018
How do you teach communication in serious illness? Can you? Do you teach it the same way to doctors and nurses in training? What level trainee do you target - medical students, interns, residents? How do we know our teaching is working? We discuss these and other bread and butter communication issues with Dr. Wendy Anderson, a palliative care physician at UCSF, director of the Bay Area Hub for Vitaltalk, and leader of IMPACT-ICU, a project to train ICU nurses in communication. Enjoy! -@AlexSmithMD
September 7, 2018
In this week's podcast we talk with Helen Kales, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan the VA Center for Clinical Management and Research. We've spent a great deal of effort in Geriatrics describing what we shouldn't do to address behavioral symptoms in dementia: physical restraints, antipsychotics, sedating antidepressants. Helen Kales was lecturing around the country about all of these things we shouldn't do a few years back, and people would raise their hands and ask, "Well, what should we do?" She realized she needed to give caregivers tools to help. Dr. Kales went on to develop the DICE approach to managing behavioral and psychiatric symptoms in dementia. Listen or read the full podcast to learn more! You'd be "crazy" not to! (hint: song choice).
August 24, 2018
On this weeks podcast, we interview Dr. Joan Teno about her recently published study in JAMA titled "Site of Death, Place of Care, and Health Care Transitions Among US Medicare Beneficiaries, 2000-2015." In 2013, Dr. Teno published a study that showed how good our health care system in the US promotes patient churn. Despite positive signs of more hospice use and decreased deaths in the hospital, Dr. Teno found the from 2000 to 2009 we "churned" patients through more ICU visits, more hospitalizations, and more late transitions that are burdensome to dying persons in their family. Dr. Teno's latest study shows us how we are doing now, extending that work to 2015 and now including Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. So what did she find? Well here is a summary quote from Dr. Teno of the good news: "So, we see a continued decline in people dying in acute care hospital. Increase gross of hospice to nearly half the decedents. And what got me excited about these findings was we saw burdensome patterns of care decreasing. So, people who spent less than three days of hospice decreased from 14.2% in 2009 to 10.8%. People having three or more hospitalizations the last 90 days in life decreased from 11.5 to 7.1. The other thing is transitions between a nursing home and hospital and hospital nursing home nearly had a 50% reduction." And here is the bad news (depending on how you look at it): "So if you just take a look at that, it looks like we're heading in the right direction. One thing that we didn't see a budge in was, the use of ICU in the last 30 days of life. Now, is the glass half empty or is the glass half full? I have to admit I was pretty excited that ICUs wasn't going up." But there is so much more to summarize, including the difference between traditional Medicare fee-for-service and Medicare Advantage plans that you should just listen to the whole podcast as Dr. Teno is always someone I learn a ton from. Also, for more on this subject, check out our past podcast with Shi-Yi Wang, Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health at Yale, on her JAGS paper: "End-of-Life Transition Patterns of Medicare Beneficiaries."
August 3, 2018
This week we talk with Charlie Wray, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCSF, about why clinicians should use social media in their professional lives. Charlie is a hospitalist and the Associate Social Media Editor for the Journal of Hospital Medicine. His arguments for using social media are germane to all clinicians, however. "Number Needed to Tweet" is the title of his recent grand rounds on this subject.
July 26, 2018
In this week's GeriPal podcast we talked with Dr. John Nelson, who has been Medical Director of Hospice of Humboldt for 17 years.
July 13, 2018
In this week's podcast we talked with Dr. Bernard Lo (Bernie as he is known). Dr. Lo is President of the Greenwall Foundation, a foundation dedicated to improving Bioethics research nationally. Prior to Greenwall, Dr. Lo was Professor of Medicine at UCSF and head of the Bioethics Program. He still maintains a primary care practice at UCSF. We talked with Bernie about several dilemmas in the area of physician aid in dying, with conversation jump started by his recent NEJM perspective on this topic
July 3, 2018
For today's GeriPal Podcast we talk with Drs. Nathan Brummel and Lauren Ferrante, both critical care physician-researchers, about integrating geriatrics principles in intensive care units.
June 26, 2018
Tramadol. Is it just a misunderstood opioid that is finally seeing its well deserved day in the sun, or is it as our podcast guest David Jurrlink would say, what would happen if "codeine and Prozac had a baby, and that baby grew into a sullen, unpredictable teenager who wore only black and sometimes kicked puppies and set fires."
June 20, 2018
On today's episode we talk to Larry Allen and Dan Matlock about decision making around destination therapy. No this has nothing to do with your summer vacation plans. Rather, we talk about how individuals with heart failure decide about whether or not to pursue "destination therapy" with an Left Ventricular Device, or LVAD.
June 13, 2018
In this weeks GeriPal podcast, we interview Dr. Barak Gaster, Professor of Medicine and General Internist at the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Gaster felt like there was hole in the advance directives landscape around future planning for people with dementia. People with dementia experience a fairly common set of complications and decisions around feeding, loss of independence, and loss of ability to make complex decisions. His dementia specific advance directive has specific sections for care preferences for persons who progress through stages of dementia, including descriptions of mild, moderate, or severe dementia.
June 5, 2018
Can routine initiation of goals of care discussions by a palliative care social worker improve prognostic understanding, elicit advanced care preferences, and influence care plans for high-risk patients discharged after a heart failure hospitalization? That is the question we attempt to answer with this weeks podcast guest, Arden E. O’Donnell. kbez8pby
June 1, 2018
This week's guest is Doug White, Professor of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and lead author of a randomized controlled study of a nurse-led intervention to provide emotional support to families of seriously ill patients in the ICU and improve the quality of communication, published in the NEJM.
May 21, 2018
How do patients come to the decision regarding whether or not to initiate dialysis? Well, that is the question that we talk about with Keren Ladin on this week's podcast. Keren is a social science researcher, bioethicist, and assistant professor in the department of Occupational Therapy at Tufts. What becomes clear when you look at Keren's research is the for many patients, there isn't a decision that is made.
May 16, 2018
This week, Eric and I talked with Melissa Wachterman, a physician researcher from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. Melissa used a national dataset of people receiving hemodialysis linked to Medicare claims for older adults who died.
May 2, 2018
In this week's GeriPal podcast we talk with Cynthia Boyd, Professor of Medicine and Geriatrician at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine about how physicians communicate with home health agencies. Home health plays a critical role in caring for persons residing at home, and in the best of circumstances extend a seamless network of care from the primary care physician's office to the home. Sadly, reality is not so rosy. The major form of communication between physicians and home health nurses is, well, a form. CMS Form 485 to be specific. In a recent study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. Boyd revealed that most primary clinicians barely read what the home health nurses write on the form, don't find the form useful, and rarely does it change management. It's the 21st century people. Can we move beyond lame forms and communicate with each other, perhaps using some modern technology? Or even 20th century technology, such as phones, if not 21st Century technology, such as video chats? Listen or read more to learn more. Enjoy!
April 26, 2018
There is a lot of discussion about the right to die. Although most of these have to do with Physician Assisted Death (PAD). What about in those who are not dying but express a dire to end their lives in the absence of a diagnosable mental illness? Do they have the same right? Well, on today's podcast we are going to step into this tricky topic with our guest, Dr. Meera Balasubramaniam, a Geriatric Psychiatrist from NYU. Meera wrote a paper for JAGS titled "Rational Suicide in Elderly Adults: A Clinician's Perspective". We talk with Meera about her article, including how she would define rational suicide, how can we help best explore these thoughts that patients consider rational, and how society and baby boomers are changing the way we think about this. We also dive into some other interesting topics include agism. I really love this quote from Meera, so I'll post it here, but for the full transcript read below or listen to the podcast: Ageism is a very interesting and distinct concept. It's fear of growing old or fear of being in that state. It's so distinct from something like racism or sexism. If a person is racist about a certain other race, it's less likely that they are going to be part of the other race that they are having negative connotations about. Similarly, if you are sexist, it's less likely less likely that you are going to belong to the other gender. When it comes to age, it's quite fascinating that most of us are actually going to get to that stage that we're being ageist about. What it is about growing old and about being down in the future that scares most of us has been sort of the crux of part of my work from a society perspective.
April 17, 2018
In this weeks podcast we talked with David Wang about how palliative care can join forces with the emergency department to improve care for the serious ill. This conversation was motivated in part by a recent expert consensus statement on key knowledge and skills standards about hospice and palliative medicine for emergency medicine providers. What should the core training be? How do emergency providers feel about palliative care? How can palliative care services that are typically available bankers hours work with the emergency department, open 24-7?
April 2, 2018
On todays podcast, we will be talking with Brooke Namboodri and we have Tim Platts-Mills from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill about their new article in the Journal of American Geriatric Society (JAGS) on "Elder abuse identification in the prehospital setting, an examination of state EMS protocols." We talk with Brooke and Tim about the state of EMS protocols in the US and how often the mention elder abuse in them (spoiler alert: not very often), how this compares to mentions of child abuse, the role EMS should play in elder abuse identification and management, and the role of potential screening tools for elder abuse.
March 28, 2018
In this weeks GeriPal/JAGS Podcast we talked witk Kei Ouchi, an emergency medicine physician, internist, and researcher at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. We recorded this podcast in the hallways of the annual meeting. We talked about outcomes following intubation in the emergency department. Kei published a paper in JAGS that is notable for several things, but perhaps most of all for the innovative use of color imagery to convey a message. The image in the @AGSJournal tweet above is from Dr. Ouchi's article - this tweet went viral by the way - and notice what it does: (1) convey the main message that outcomes are worse with advancing age, and are not good in general overall; (2) grab your attention and make you want to learn more. Kei is very thoughtful about how these data should be used - not on the spot in the ED, when a patient is gasping for air, and you pull up the color figure on your iphone Twitter app - no, not then. Better to use this information in advance, when things are calm, outside the ED, for people at risk of going to the ED in extremis. This is the first in a series of GeriPal podcasts on the GeriPal - ED interface. ED stands for Emergency Department by the way. Enjoy! -By @AlexSmithMD
March 13, 2018
On this week's podcast, we talk with the authors of a Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS) article titled Should We Bury “The Good Death"? As luck may have it, one of the authors is co-host Alex Smith, and the other is a leader in geriatrics and palliative care, VJ Periyakoil. Alex and VJ's critique of the ‘good death’ was published alongside a paired commentary from Age and Ageing from the British Geriatrics Society.
February 27, 2018
For this week's GeriPal podcast we are honored to be joined by Tim Quill, palliative care physician and bioethicist from the University of Rochester, New York. Dr. Quill has pushed our nation to seriously grapple with the issue of physician aid in dying with a remarkably thoughtful and measured approach. We talk with Dr. Quill on this podcast about voluntary stopping eating and drinking, and a paper on this topic he recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine. As noted in the podcast, I am deeply ambivalent about physician aid in dying. I find voluntary stopping eating and drinking (VSED) to be far more acceptable. Some of this has to do with the acceptability of positive and negative acts (positive act - giving a patient a prescription for lethal medication; negative act - not inserting a feeding tube in a patient who refuses to eat and drink). Some of this just has to do with the time course: patients who stop eating and drinking must have the resolve and dedication over time. And they can change their minds. We address many aspects of this issue on the podcast, including: Who is VSED appropriate for? What can patients expect? How does VSED compare to other "options of last resort?" What is the role of palliative care? Should hospice's deem a patient eligible if they would not have a less than six month prognosis if they continued to eat and drink? When should a psychiatrist be involved? What if the suffering is not physician, but social or psychological? Is VSED legal? Should clinicians routinely offer VSED to all patients with serious illness as an option? How do you feel about this topic? Feel free to respond in the comments, or on Twitter!
February 20, 2018
For this weeks podcast, we talk with Laura Petrillo, lead author of a recent paper published in JAMA IM titled “Hypoglycemia in Hospice Patients With Type 2 Diabetes in a National Sample of Nursing Homes”. Laura is a palliative care physician and researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Laura's finding should serve as a wakeup call for anyone caring for individuals on hospice living in nursing homes. They found that 1 in 9 nursing home patients with type 2 diabetes experienced hypoglycemia. So take a listen an tell us what you think in the comment section on this GeriPal post.
February 7, 2018
Many in palliative care (including us) have argued that the default care model in nursing homes should be a palliative approach. Revealing indeed, therefore, to talk with nurse researcher Caroline Stephens about her publication in JAGS where she studied palliative care-eligibility and POLST completion for nearly 200 residents of 3 San Francisco area nursing homes, finding: 70% of nursing home residents were palliative care-eligible, but other than 2 patients on hospice, none were receiving consultative palliative care 99% of residents had completed a POLST, but almost no one remembered filling it out Listen to the podcast for more, including answer to questions: What does palliative-care eligible mean? How could they fill out a POLST but not remember it, did they all have dementia? What is Campbell's law, and does it have anything to do with his soup? We're joined on this podcast by Sei Lee, MD, regular guest host and as it happens senior author on the nursing home study, and Lynn Flint, MD, palliative care physician with extensive experience working in nursing home settings. Enjoy!
February 2, 2018
Proton pump inhibitors are one of the most widely used medications. As I note in the podcast below, I was in my local drug store the other day, and an entire shelf segment, top to bottom, was filled with medications for "heartburn," and most of them were proton pump inhibitors. And those are just the over the counter variety. So wouldn't it be a public health disaster if proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, increased a persons risk for dementia? Even if the increase in dementia risk is only slight, on a population level, given the vast number of people using PPIs, the consequences would be disastrous. A major study in JAMA showed just such a linkage, raising serious alarm about this issue. So with this urgent question in mind, we talk with two authors about their more recent studies in JAGS suggesting that there is no such linkage. We talked with Shelly Gray, from the School of Pharmacy and the University of Washington, and Felicia Goldstein from Emory University, about their studies, the current evidence as a whole, and what an individual on PPI's should think at this time about his or her risk of dementia. Here is the bottom line, for those who can't wait. In response to Eric asking what advice they would give their 75 year old neighbor who is taking PPI's, Dr. Gray said: I would tell her that the information is conflicting, but some really high quality studies have been done and have not found an association, and if this medication is necessary to manage her condition, that she should continue taking it. However, I will say that we do know that these medications are overused, and so I still believe in the tenet of geriatric medicine that we try to deprescribe when possible, so I would try to reassure her and let her know that it's not a done deal and that the high quality studies do indicate that there doesn't seem to be an association.
January 31, 2018
Today we have Lee Lindquist with us on the GeriPal podcast to talk about planning for the "4th quarter" of life. Dr. Lindquist is a geriatrician and chief of geriatrics at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Dr. Lindquist developed a website called to help older adults create strategies for dealing with health crises, such as hospitalization, a serious fall, and dementia. Using the website, older adults can think about what services they may need in the last 10 or 15 years of their lives, what choices they can make now, and how to access these services when needed. Her work was also recently published in a a Journal of Hospital Medicine paper showing that the website helped older adults plan for posthospital discharge needs before a hospitalization occurs. So give it a listen and comment below on what you think should be address in the last quarter of life.
January 22, 2018
We have a great podcast this week exploring the advance care planning needs for hospitalized adults and what palliative care teams are doing (and not doing) to meet these needs. We've invited Kara Bischoff, a palliative care doctor and Assistant Professor at UCSF in the Department of Hospital Medicine, who published a paper in JAMA Internal Medicine on this very topic. Why was this JAMA IM paper so important for those who work in our field? This was a real world study, looking at over 73,000 consultations from the Palliative Care Quality Network (PCQN). They found palliative care teams consistently identified surrogates for patients, often addressed their preferences regarding life sustaining treatments, including code status, and frequently found a preference regarding life sustaining treatments that was different than what was previously documented before the consult. But rarely completed advance directives (only 3.2% of patients seen by palliative care teams) or Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) forms (12.3% of patients seen by palliative care teams).
January 16, 2018
Our guests this week are Lena Makaroun, MD, a research fellow at the VA Pudget Sound, and Sei Lee, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at UCSF and frequent co-host on this podcast. They recently wrote a paper in JAMA Internal Medicine on wealth disparities in the US and England, and implications for mortality and disability. Major take home points: “It’s not that great to be rich, but it really sucks to be poor.” Those in the bottom quintile of wealth had the greatest difference in disability and mortality (ie worse). Differences between those in the highest quintile of wealth and the next highest were relatively minor in comparison. “Rather than saying universal healthcare doesn't help, I would just say it's not enough.” Worse disability and mortality with lower wealth were observed in the US and England, both before and after age 65. Does this mean National Health Service isn’t working? The authors expected to find less difference in England where universal coverage is, well universal, and not just after age 65 in the US (Medicare). The authors give thoughtful responses.
December 11, 2017
For this weeks podcast, we talk all about prognostication with Christian Sinclair. Christian is a palliative care physician at University of Kansas Medical Center, past president of AAHPM, recent AAHPM "Visionary" awardee, and Pallimed social media guru. We go over a lot of topics at the heart of prognostication in hospice and palliative care including: - The importance that prognostication plays in daily practice, especially in goals of care discussions - Helpful tools and skills to estimate prognosis - How prognosis changes the way we think about prescribing opioids - How to think about prognosis when it comes to hospice eligibility and why it may be that one of the most important tools used for prognostication in the hospice setting, the hospice eligibility guidelines, were last updated over two decades ago. So we have a ton to talk about and we would love for you to continue this discussion in the comment section of this blog, on Facebook or on twitter.
December 5, 2017
In this week's GeriPal podcast, we talk with Jessie Merlin, Palliative Care Faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, who is addressing another important aspect of this issue: the role of palliative care in chronic pain. We disucss issues such as: - Do outpatient palliative care providers see patients with chronic pain currently? (please take this survey to help Jessie figure this out!) - Should palliative care fellowship training include management of chronic pain? - Is there really a distinction between "cancer pain" and "non-cancer pain?" - To what extent is or should prognosis be a factor in determining treatment of pain? - Everybody Hurts by REM (and a hack rendition)
November 22, 2017
In this week's GeriPal Podcast, sponsored also by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, we talk with Tom Gill, MD, Professor of Medicine at Yale. With guest co-host Dan Matlock, MD, from the University of Colorado, we talk with Tom about his recent JAGS publication on the relationship between distressing symptoms, disability, and hospice enrollment. Tom conducted this study in a long running cohort of older adults that has made a number of outstanding contributions to the GeriPal literature (see links on the GeriPal website). Tom's song request? Stairway to Heaven. This podcast was recorded at the recent Beeson meeting, an aging research meeting, near Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the end, you hear about 30-40 of us singing the end of Stairway around a campfire. As in singing, "And as we wind on down the road...:" Nailed it!
October 27, 2017
On this week's podcast, we have invited Dr. Kimberly Curseen to talk about how implicit bias influences us as providers in geriatrics, hospice, and palliative care, as well as the role of that cultural competence and cultural humility should play in our practice. Kimberly Curseen, M.D. is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at Emory School of Medicine and Director of Outpatient Supportive/Palliative Care, Emory Healthcare.
October 10, 2017
On this GeriPal podcast we discuss the value of "scenario planning" in informed decision making with Gretchen Schwarze, Associate Professor in the Division of Vascular Surgery at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Schwarze is a board-certified vascular surgeon and medical ethicist who recently wrote an article on this subject in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Scenario planning comes from the economics literature, but Dr. Schwarze advocates for its use in medicine, giving healthcare providers the tools to say “I cannot predict the future, but if all goes well, this is what is likely to follow, and if things go poorly, this is what we can expect.” The aim is not to develop the “correct” scenario, but to describe a range of stories illustrating how the future might unfold.
September 11, 2017
Back in 2009, Pallimed created one of my favorite posts titled "Top 10 Contemporary Palliative Care Songs". In it, they made a list of "contemporary" songs from many different genres that have palliative themes. For todays podcast, we aim to update this list with songs that inspire, move, or make us think about geriatrics or palliative care. As with the Pallimed post, this is all personal preference. So we would love to hear from you. What one song would you have included in this podcast if you were sitting in the studio? Put it in the comments section on
September 6, 2017
On this weeks podcast, we have Sarah Hooper, J.D., the Executive Director of the UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science and Health Policy, an interprofessional partnerships in education, research, and clinical training and service. We talk with Sarah about her work creating the Medical-Legal Partnership for Seniors Clinic (MLPS) in which law students and faculty provide free legal assistance to low-income older patients at the UCSF Medical Center and at the San Francisco VA.
September 1, 2017
Zara Cooper the Need to Integrate Geriatrics and Palliative Care into Trauma Surgery by Alex Smith and Eric Widera
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