Skin Findings in Palliative Care Patients.


Abstract:  The prevalence of dermatologic disease and its effect on quality of life has not been well studied in patients with advanced illness. We sought to describe skin findings in inpatient palliative care patients and determine how often they are addressed by the primary or palliative care teams. We collected patient demographic and clinical data from the medical record, performed total body skin examinations, and determined how often significant cutaneous findings were documented in the chart. We also characterized skin findings as uncomfortable and treatable. Twenty palliative care patients participated in the study over a 2-month period. Common findings included skin breakdown (20/54; 37%), skin infections (14/54; 26%), inflammatory dermatoses (9/54; 17%), and skin conditions related to systemic disease (7/54; 13%) or treatment of systemic disease (4/54; 7%). Most of these conditions were not documented by primary or palliative care clinicians. Eighty percent of the patients had uncomfortable, but treatable skin conditions of which 62% (13/21) were undocumented or incorrectly documented. These limited data suggest the need for palliative care clinicians to conduct more complete skin examinations, and to improve their knowledge of common skin abnormalities in patients with serious illness. A larger scale investigation of skin disease and its effect on quality of life in the palliative care population is warranted.


Journal of Palliative Medicine


Jul/Aug2008, Vol. 11 Issue 6, p834-837, 4p, 2 charts

Resource Type:

Journal Article


Hansra, Nina K. et al