In August 2010, we began our Beacon journey. During the journey, staff in our 18-bed combined surgical intensive care unit (SICU) and cardiothoracic intensive care unit (CTICU) evaluated many aspects of the care we provided and our unit’s processes. One aspect of care that we identified as underemphasized was extended care and end-of-life care. In this article, we describe the process that we followed in developing and initiating a palliative care program in our SICU/CTICU.

Typically care provided in a SICU is focused on curative therapies. In our unit, when patient care priorities were more in line with palliative care concerns, we had no structured or interdisciplinary process in place to accommodate those needs. Palliative care neither hastens nor postpones death. It supports the patient and family during an illness or at the end of life and helps them to understand and cope with the changes in their condition.


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