The surprise question

“Would you be surprised if your patient died in the next 6 to 12 months?”


  • YES: Prognosis is greater than 6 to 12 months
    Key Clinical Process: Advance Care Planning
    Advance care planning ensures that the patient's wishes are known to the health professional, family and Substitute Decision Maker (SDM).
  • NO: Prognosis of less than 6 months
    Key Clinical Process: Case Conference
    The aim of palliative care case conferencing is to identify clear goals of management so that stakeholders are “all on the same page”.
  • NO: Prognosis very limited, usually less than a week
    Key Clinical Process: Terminal Care Management Plan
    Recognising dying is the first step in developing a terminal care management plan in a residential aged care facility or at home.

Change indicators

Helpful resources


Page updated 22 May 2017

palliAGED is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.