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The views and opinions expressed in our blog series are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health.
As a practising intensive care specialist for over 21 years, I have had the privilege to be with many patients and families during one of the most difficult times of their life. Difficult because intensive care can be a terrifying, confusing and bewildering experience with a strong sense of losing control over decisions including life and death. For patients and families to make sense out of an almost impossible situation, it is critical for the intensive care physician to articulate the story clearly.
This allows the patient and family to have a solid understanding of their situation and simultaneously create opportunities for further clarifying questions. This shared understanding can be used as a platform for further decisions particularly around end-of-life care, which are informed and create a sense of ownership by the patient,
and if possible, also the family.
One of the luxuries I have, as an intensive care physician, is having a greater amount of time to talk to patients and families. For many patients and families it is often difficult to access healthcare professionals with time and knowledge about end-of-life care or the palliative approach to care.
From my days as a junior doctor to those as a director of intensive care, I have long appreciated the value of evidence to inform decisions not only about individual patient care but the use of evidence in business discussions to improve the delivery of health care.
A way of accessing trustworthy information about the palliative approach to end-of-life care can be found in CareSearch. It enables patients and families to have a better understanding of what is happening and help them with decisions, which will need to be made when they meet with their health care professionals.
CareSearch provides invaluable, up-to-date evidence on all aspects of end-of-life care, which helps clinicians like myself, to provide the best care based on the best available evidence. For a busy clinician and an end-of-life care researcher, CareSearch affords incredibly easy access to relevant literature, which can often be hard to find. CareSearch is a wonderful aid to both senior and junior researchers alike.
As we all continue to strive for our desired goal for all Australians to die symptom free in a place of our choice and with those we choose to be with, CareSearch adds a depth of knowledge to end-of-life care, which is nation-leading. As health care professionals and as members of the community, CareSearch can only add to achieving our desired goal.
Professor Imogen Mitchell, Dean, The Australian National University Medical School