UW Medical Center receives Joint Commission certification for Inpatient Palliative Care Program

First Joint Commission-certified palliative care program in Washington state

Seattle -- The Joint Commission, a national nonprofit aimed at improving public health through evaluation and accreditation of exceptional health services, has awarded UW Medical Center certification for their Advanced Palliative Care Program.

UW Medical Center is the only hospital in Washington state to have received certification in palliative care and one of only 56 certified hospitals in the United States. The Joint Commission began certification for palliative care in September 2011 to recognize “hospital inpatient programs that demonstrate exceptional patient and family-centered care and optimize the quality of life for patients (both adult and pediatric) with serious illness.”

Dr. Jaqueline Raetz,
UW assistant professor
of family medicine

Dr. Jaqueline Raetz, UW assistant professor of family medicine and interim director of clinical care for the UW Medical Center Palliative Care program, headed up the certification submission. At the forefront of this certification is the UWMC palliative care team’s “care plan,” a document used with each and every patient receiving palliative care. The care plan reflects the patient’s current plan of care in several interdisciplinary domains that are key to providing good palliative care, such as goals of care, social circumstances, psychological status, cultural and spiritual values, grief and loss, symptom management, and advance directives, among others. Since patients with serious illness often have several care providers, ranging from nurses to surgeons to social workers, this information helps all providers keep the patient’s wishes priority. Dr. Raetz says, “It has been an honor to be a part of the palliative care team here at UWMC and I'm glad that I have been able to assist the program in achieving certification.

The Advanced Palliative Care Program at UWMC was founded by Dr. Stuart Farber in 2005 and led until recently by him. He is UW professor of family medicine, and chair of clinical operations for the UW Palliative Care Center of Excellence. Dr. Farber says, “The Joint Commission Certification is recognition of the superb work our palliative care team does on a daily basis. I am extremely proud of the team and especially the exemplary leadership of Dr. Raetz that resulted in a perfect certification rating without any recommendations for improvement.”