Special Series: Tribute to J Randall Curtis
- J. Randall Curtis (“Randy”) has had a profound impact on the culture and state of the science of palliative care in serious illness, particularly in the critical care setting. He has accomplished this by bringing rigorous and innovative empirical research into understanding and improving communication, decision-making, and culture around end-of-life care in the intensive care unit (ICU). His legacy extends far beyond his scientific contributions through the personal impact of his compassion, creativity, and visionary brilliance on the cultures of ICUs and hospitals around palliative care.
- Anesthesia and anesthesiologists have deep roots within the specialty of intensive care medicine,1 but anesthesiologists in the United States comprise only 13% of intensivists, compared to 20% with specialization in surgery and 65% internal medicine.2 With frequently separate training programs, different funding options, and departmental divides, anesthesiologists can sometimes feel as an “other” within the field of critical care. Yet, innovative leaders and mentors such as Randy Curtis bridge that divide.
- We met each other through academic medicine, in search for answers, and found friendship. Its value in my life was abundant, unearned grace. In Dr. Curtis, I learned the truth of the words of Thomas Mann, “Illness was merely transformed love.”
- Each year, approximately one million older adults die in American intensive care units (ICUs) or survive with significant functional impairment. Inadequate symptom management, surrogates’ psychological distress and inappropriate healthcare use are major concerns. Pioneering work by Dr. J. Randall Curtis paved the way for integrating palliative care (PC) specialists to address these needs, but convincing proof of efficacy has not yet been demonstrated.