Palliative Care Service

Steven Pantilat, MD
Medical Director of
Palliative Care Service

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness — whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work together with a patient's other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment. UCSF's Palliative Care Service (PCS) provides interdisciplinary consultation for patients with serious illness, at the request of an attending physician, focused on expert symptom control, clear communication about goals of care and treatment decisions, and referral to community resources such as hospice. In 2007, the UCSF Palliative Care Program received the prestigious Circle of Life award, which honors innovative and exemplary palliative care programs.

Our interdisciplinary team includes physicians, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers, chaplains, and pharmacists who together provide care to patients, and support program development, education, and research.

The PCS is available to:

  • Work with the ward team to provide consultation about management and education
  • Provide bedside consultation with patients and families at the request of the patient's attending physician
  • Assess patients and arrange transfer to the Comfort Care Suites
  • Attend to the reactions of providers and staff after a patient's death

Appropriate reasons to consult the Palliative Care Service include:

  • Refractory symptoms including pain, dyspnea, nausea, anxiety
  • Frequent ED visits or hospital admissions for same diagnosis
  • Prolonged length of stay (7-14 days) without evidence of improvement
  • Prolonged ICU LOS (> 7 days) without evidence of improvement or with poor prognosis
  • Team/patient/family needs help with complex decision making and determination of goals of care
  • Assistance determining hospice eligibility and educating about hospice
  • Unaddressed spiritual or psychosocial issues

Questions about the PCS can be directed to Steve Pantilat at stevep@medicine.ucsf.edu.

Click here for: PCLC: Palliative Care Leadership Center