The Surprise Question is a tool used in palliative care to help healthcare providers identify patients who may benefit from palliative care services. The question is typically asked: “Would you be surprised if this patient died within the next six months?”
The Surprise Question is designed to help providers identify patients with a limited life expectancy and who may benefit from early referral to palliative care services. It is not meant to be a definitive predictor of life expectancy but a starting point for further assessment and discussion with the patient and their family.
If the answer to the Surprise Question is “no” or “I wouldn’t be surprised,” it may indicate that the patient has significant health concerns or comorbidities that may impact their quality of life or life expectancy. In these cases, the healthcare provider may consider referring the patient to palliative care services for additional support and symptom management.
It’s important to note that the Surprise Question is just one tool used in palliative care and that the decision to refer a patient for palliative care services should be based on a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s medical and psychosocial needs as their goals and preferences for care.