Special Series: Tribute to J Randall Curtis
- “Before my (ALS) diagnosis, I used to think of my legacy as the papers I had published and the impact that my research has had on the field of medicine. Since my diagnosis, my thinking has changed. I now see my legacy as the people I have mentored and helped mentor and the people that they have mentored. This vision of legacy gives me much more joy and happiness than my old vision of legacy.”—J. Randall Curtis, UW Medicine Huddle, December 6,2021.1
- 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.
- Outcomes after cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) remain poor. We have spent 10 years investigating an “informed assent” (IA) approach to discussing CPR with chronically ill patients/families. IA is a discussion framework whereby patients extremely unlikely to benefit from CPR are informed that unless they disagree, CPR will not be performed because it will not help achieve their goals, thus removing the burden of decision-making from the patient/family, while they retain an opportunity to disagree.
- It is a true privilege to work with a colleague who can consistently teach and inspire those around him. We are fortunate to have worked with Dr. J. Randall (“Randy”) Curtis for most of our careers. We have been his mentees, collaborators, peers, and – for the past seven years – his co-Directors on a National Institutes of Health (NIH) palliative care research training grant.1 In these roles, we have watched Randy mentor and advise over 50 trainees and faculty who share his goals of advancing clinical research and improving the experiences of patients with serious illness and their families.