The Vienna General Hospital - Medical University Campus is Austria's biggest hospital. The Vienna General Hospital and the clinical areas of the Medical University of Vienna have been jointly managed by the two institutions. The Medical University of Vienna, which hosts 8,000 students, is the largest medical training center in the German-speaking world. An essential element of the Vienna General Hospital and the Medical University of Vienna is the combination of patient care, research and training. Palliative Care at the center started in 2001, when six beds from the Department of Oncology were dedicated for patients with need for palliative care. In 2005, a chair for Palliative Medicine was established at the Medical University of Vienna. Subsequently, an independent Department of Palliative Medicine in conjunction with the academic Chair at the Medical University of Vienna was established in 2013. The Department of Palliative Medicine is member of the Comprehensive Cancer Center Vienna.
The Department of Palliative Medicine includes a patient ward, an in-hospital counselling service and an outpatient department. The ward has 12 beds, a large visiting area and a conference room. Around 200 patients a year are admitted to our ward. Ninety-five percent of patients admitted to our ward suffer from cancer. Half of our patients are dismissed, either to home palliative-care or institutional care. Our in-patients counselling serves patients in other departments of the hospital who have a need for palliative care. The outpatient department supports patients from our ward who had been dismissed but need further support from our physicians, nurses, dietologists, physiotherapists or social workers. It also serves to support newly diagnosed, incurable cancer patients in coping with their disease (early palliative care) Members of the department (one full and two associate professors and several postdocs) are responsible for patient care, teaching Palliative Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna and for performing research.
Our clinical activities concern almost exclusively patients with cancer in general, and particularly those with lung and GI cancers. Our research activities are focused primarily on end-of-life situations where we have performed studies on the prevalence of palliative sedation, compared the frequency of sedation in our palliative care ward compared to other wards in Austria and analyzed the effect of this procedure on overall survival or have investigated the use of heart-rate variability to monitor pain in advanced cancer patients.
Palliative and Supportive Care
Being a member of our Universities Comprehensive Cancer center, our expertise is in helping cancer patients to improve their quality of life early in the course of their disease and support them and their family throughout their life. This requires a multi-professional team which covers every aspect of palliative medicine and palliative care. Seeing patients early on in their course of disease requires knowledge of effects and side effects of oncologic treatments and the necessary supportive care in that situation. This can be achieved by close cooperation with the treating medical oncologists, surgical oncologists and radiotherapists. Seeing patients at the end of their life's requires expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of somatic and psychological side effects of uncontrolled tumor growth, which is the genuine task of Palliative care.
Last update: December 2020