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Rachelle E. Bernacki, MD, MS

Palliative Medicine

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Rachelle E. Bernacki, MD, MS


  • Director of Quality Initiatives, Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care
  • Senior Physician
  • Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School


Clinical Interests

  • End-of-life care
  • Geriatrics
  • Palliative medicine
  • Symptom management

Contact Information

  • Appointments617-632-6464
  • Office Phone Number617-632-6464
  • Fax617-632-6180

Board Certification:

  • Geriatrics, 2006
  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 2005
  • Internal Medicine, 2001


  • MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics Fellowship
  • University of Chicago, Geriatrics
  • University of Chicago, Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program


  • University of Washington, Internal Medicine

Medical School:

  • Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Recent Awards:

  • Geriatric Academic Career Award, Health Resources and Services Administration 2007
  • Summer Institute on Aging Research, National Institute on Aging 2007
  • Clinical Faculty Teaching Award, UCSF School of Medicine 2007
  • Excellence in Small Group Instruction Award, UCSF School of Medicine 2007, 2008


Bernacki, R. Pantilat, S.Z. Guidelines for Palliative Care: Hospital and Hospice. In Esophageal Cancer Principles and Practice. Eds: Jobe, B. Thomas, C.R., Hunter J.G. 2009.


Auerbach A.D., Pantilat S.Z., Schnipper J., Bernacki, R., Wetterneck T., Kaboli P., Gonzalez D., Manning W., Levinson W., Meltzer D. Factors associated with documentation of care discussions: A multicenter trial. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2008; 3(6):437-445.


Bernacki R, Brauner D. "Vanishing Tumors in a 95 year old woman." Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2006; (55): S101.


Bernacki, R. Not at Peace. Hastings Cent Rep 2005; 35(4):9-10.


Bernacki, R. Use of healthcare resources in the last six months of life: How doctors learn may explain results. BMJ 2004; 328(7449):1202.


Bernacki, R, Block, R. Communication about Serious Illness Care Goals: A Review and Synthesis of Best Practices. JAMA Intern Med. 2014; 174(12):1994-2003.


Selvaggi K, Vick J, Jessell SA, Lister J, Abrahm JL, and Bernacki R. Bridging the Gap: A Palliative Care Consultation Service in a Hematological Malignancy-BMT Unit. Journal of Supportive Oncology 2014; 12 (2):50-55.


Cooper, Z, Bernacki, R, Bader, A, Gawande, A, Block, S. Conversations about treatment preferences before high-risk surgery: A pilot study in the pre-operative testing center. Journal of Palliative Medicine 2014; 17(6):701-7.


Bernacki, R, Smith, G, Block, S.  The Role of Palliative Care in Accountable Care Organizations.  Journal of Palliative Medicine 2015; 18(6): 486-494. 


Bernacki, R, Smith, G, Hutchings, M, Vick, J; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Smith, G, Paladino, J, Lipsitz, S, Gawande, A Block, SD.  Development of the Serious Illness Care Program: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Palliative Care Communication Intervention. BMJ Open 2015: 5(10). e009032 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009032.


Bernacki, R, Obermeyer, Z. A Need for More, Better, and Earlier Conversations With Cancer Patients About Goals of Care. Evidence Based Oncology 2015; 21 (6):166-7.


Bernacki RE, Ko D, Higgins P, Whitlock S, Cullinan A, Wilson R, Jackson V, Dahlin C, Abrahm J, Mort E, Scheer K, Block S, Billings JA. Improving Access to Palliative Care through an Innovative Quality Improvement Initiative.  Journal of Palliative Medicine 2012; 15(2): 192-199.


Billings, JA, Bernacki R.  Strategic Targeting of Advance Care Planning Interventions: The Goldilocks Phenomenon.  JAMA Internal Medicine 2014; 174(4):620-4.


Cooper, Z, Mitchell, SL, Lipsitz, S, Harris, MB, Ayanian, JZ, Bernacki, R, Jha, AK. Mortality and Readmissions After Cervical Fractures From Falls In Older Adults: A Comparison To Hip Fracture Using National Medicare Data.  Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2015; 63(10): 2036-42.



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