September 4, 2018: Spotlight on a New Demonstration Project: PRIM-ER

In the United States, half of persons 65 years and older have an emergency department visit in the last month of life, and three-quarters have an emergency department visit in the last 6 months of life. Admissions to intensive care units by emergency clinicians are on the rise, especially for older patients. Meanwhile, three-quarters of older adults with serious illness have thought about end-of-life care, and only 12% want life-prolonging care.

The Primary Palliative Care for Emergency Medicine (PRIM-ER) pragmatic clinical trial will address this gap in the delivery of goal-directed emergency care of older adults. PRIM-ER will implement primary palliative care in a diverse group of 35 emergency departments. The trial will test the hypothesis that older patients with serious, life-limiting illness who receive care from clinicians with primary palliative care skills are less likely to be admitted to inpatient settings, are more likely to be discharged home or to palliative care service, and will have higher home health and hospice use, fewer inpatient days and intensive care unit admissions at 6 months, and longer survival than patients receiving care before implementation of the intervention.

“Giving emergency nurses, physician assistants, doctors the knowledge and skills they need to better care for patients with serious illness will ease symptom burden, improve quality of life, and get patients to the places where they want to be at the end of life.”

As a new addition to the NIH Collaboratory’s family of innovative Demonstration Projects, the PRIM-ER trial will feature evidence-based, multidisciplinary primary palliative care education; simulation-based workshops on communication in serious illness; clinical decision support, and provider audit and feedback.

PRIM-ER is led by principal investigator Dr. Corita Grudzen of New York University with support from the National Institute on Aging and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Watch a video interview with Dr. Grudzen, and read more about PRIM-ER.