Depuis plusieurs décennies, le mouvement des soins palliatifs a développé des pratiques sédatives en cas de symptômes insupportables en fin de vie. Ces pratiques, à vrai dire presque confidentielles, ont été mises en lumière par l’évolution législative de 2016 avec la loi dite Claeys Leonetti. Mais il existe un risque réel de « sédater trop vite et trop fort des patients mal évalués » par des acteurs peu formés, et confondant souvent les niveaux et les intentionnalités de sédations. En effet, une réflexion éthique est indispensable, tout comme une vraie connaissance de la démarche palliative, pour adapter avec justesse et mesure des stratégies de sédation. Avec l’aide des sociétés savantes, la HAS a publié en deux ans des documents rigoureux, recommandant notamment un outil désormais incontournable permettant de préciser l’intentionnalité de la sédation, la fiche SEDAPALL.
Background: Palliative care has been widely implemented in clinical practice for patients with cancer but is not routinely provided to people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Aim: The study aims were to compare palliative care services, medications, life-sustaining interventions, place of death, symptom burden and health-related quality of life among chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer populations.
Design: Systematic review with meta-analysis (PROSPERO: CRD42019139425).
Data sources: MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, CINAHL and PsycINFO were searched for studies comparing palliative care, symptom burden or health-related quality of life among chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer or populations with both conditions. Quality scores were assigned using the QualSyst tool.
Results: Nineteen studies were included. There was significant heterogeneity in study design and sample size. A random effects meta-analysis ( n = 3–7) determined that people with lung cancer had higher odds of receiving hospital (odds ratio: 9.95, 95% confidence interval: 6.37–15.55, p < 0.001) or home-based palliative care (8.79, 6.76–11.43, p < 0.001), opioids (4.76, 1.87–12.11, p = 0.001), sedatives (2.03, 1.78–2.32, p < 0.001) and dying at home (1.47, 1.14–1.89, p = 0.003) compared to people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. People with lung cancer had lower odds of receiving invasive ventilation (0.26, 0.22–0.32, p < 0.001), non-invasive ventilation (0.63, 0.44–0.89, p = 0.009), cardiopulmonary resuscitation (0.29, 0.18–0.47, p < 0.001) or dying at a nursing home/long-term care facility (0.32, 0.16–0.64, p < 0.001) than people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Symptom burden and health-related quality of life were relatively similar between the two populations.
Conclusion: People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease receive less palliative measures at the end of life compared to people with lung cancer, despite a relatively similar symptom profile.
Dexmedetomidine is a selective a2-adrenoreceptor agonist with a broad range of effects, including easily controllable sedation, analgesia and anxiolysis. Because of these favorable features, it has replaced traditional sedatives, such as benzodiazepines, and is becoming the first-line sedative for the patients in intensive care units. Terminally ill patients often need sedatives for symptom management, especially for dyspnoea. However, the use of dexmedetomidine in a palliative care setting has rarely been recognised to date. We experienced a patient nearing the end of life due to uncontrollable pulmonary haemorrhage on ventilator, whose dyspnoea was successfully managed by dexmedetomidine in addition to continuous intravenous infusion of oxycodone.
Objectives: This study aimed to identify gaps in palliative care (PC) provision across the National Cancer Grid (NCG) centres in India.
Methods: We performed a cross-sectional validated web-based survey on 102 NCG cancer centres (Nov ’17 to April ’18). The survey questionnaire had seven sections collecting data relating to the capacity to provide cancer care and PC, drug availability for pain and symptom control, education, advocacy, and quality assurance activities for PC.
Results: Eighty-nine NCG centres responded for this study—72.5% of centres had doctors with generalist PC training, whereas 34.1% of centres had full-time PC physicians; 53.8% had nurses with 6 weeks of PC training; 68.1% of the centres have an outpatient PC and 66.3% have the facility to provide inpatient PC; 38.5% of centres offer home-based PC services; 44% of the centres make a hospice referral and 68.1% of the centres offer concurrent cancer therapy alongside PC. Among the centres, 84.3% have a licence to procure, store and dispense opioids, but only 77.5% have an uninterrupted supply of oral morphine for patients; 61.5% centres have no dedicated funds for PC, 23.1% centres have no support from hospital administration, staff shortage—69.2% have no social workers, 60.4% have no counsellors and 76.9% have no volunteers. Although end-of-life care is recognised, there is a lack of institutional policy. Very few centres take part in quality control measures.
Conclusions: The majority of the NCG centres have the facilities to provide PC but suffer from poor implementation of existing policies, funding and human resources.
This study aimed to analyze the trends of opioid use disorders, cannabis use disorders, and palliative care among hospitalized patients with gastrointestinal cancer and to identify their associated factors.
We analyzed the National Inpatient Sample data from 2005 to 2014 and included hospitalized patients with gastrointestinal cancers. The trends of hospital palliative care and opioid or cannabis use disorders were analyzed using the compound annual growth rates (CAGR) with Rao-Scott correction for 2 tests. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to identify the associated factors.
From 2005 to 2014, among 4,364,416 hospitalizations of patients with gastrointestinal cancer, the average annual rates of opioid and cannabis use disorders were 0.4% (n = 19,520), and 0.3% (n = 13,009), respectively. The utilization rate of hospital palliative care was 6.2% (n = 268,742). They all sharply increased for 10 years (CAGR = 9.61%, 22.2%, and 21.51%, respectively). The patients with a cannabis use disorder were over 4 times more likely to have an opioid use disorder (Odds ratios, OR = 4.029; P < .001). Hospital palliative care was associated with higher opioid use disorder rates, higher in-hospital mortality, shorter length of hospital stay, and lower hospital charges. (OR = 1.527, 9.980, B = -0.054 and -0.386; each of P < .001).
The temporal trends of opioid use disorders and hospital palliative care use among patients with gastrointestinal cancer increased from 2005 to 2014, which is mostly attributed to patients with a higher risk of in-hospital mortality. Cannabis use disorders were associated with opioid use disorders. Palliative care was associated with both reduced lengths of stay and hospital charge.
Context: Uremic pruritus (UP) affects up to half of all patients with kidney disease and has been independently associated with poor patient outcomes. UP is a challenging symptom for clinicians to manage as there are no validated guidelines for its treatment.
Objectives: The study aimed to develop and validate an algorithm and patient information toolkit for the treatment of UP in patients with kidney disease.
Methods: The study involved a literature search and development of an initial draft algorithm, followed by content and face validation of this algorithm. Validation entailed three rounds of interviews with six nephrology clinicians per round. Participants assessed the relevance of each component of the algorithm and then rated a series of statements on a scale of 1-5 to assess face validity of the algorithm. After each round, the content validity index (CVI) of each algorithm component was calculated, and the algorithm was revised by the study team in response to findings. This process was followed by a second study that developed and validated a patient information pamphlet and video.
Results: Algorithm validation participants were affiliated with three institutions and included seven physicians, four registered nurses, three nurse practitioners, three pharmacists, and a dietician. The average CVI of the algorithm components across all three rounds was 0.89, with 0.80 commonly cited as the lower acceptable limit for content validation. More than 78% of participants rated each face validity statement as “Agree” or “Strongly Agree”. For the patient information tools, five clinicians and 15 patients were included in validation. The average CVI was 1.00 for both tools, and the average face validity was 92%.
Conclusion: A treatment algorithm and patient information toolkit for managing UP in patients with kidney disease were developed and validated through expert review. Further research will be conducted on implementation of the treatment algorithm and evaluating patient-reported outcomes.
This issue of Medical Clinics, guest edited by Dr. Eric Widera, is devoted to Palliative Care. Articles in this important issue include: Hospice and palliative care: an overview; Goals of care conversations in palliative care: A practical guide; The art and science of prognostication in palliative care; Recognizing and managing polypharmacy in advanced illness; Pain management in those with serious illness; Management of grief, depression, and suicidal thoughts in those with serious illness; Management of respiratory symptoms in those with serious illness; Management of gastrointestinal symptoms inadvanced illness; Management of urgent medical conditions at the end of life; Delirium at the end of life; Options of last resort: palliative sedation, Physician aid in dying and voluntary cessation of eating and drinking; Cannabis for symptom management; and Self-care of physicians caring for patients with serious illness.
Context: Older adults with advanced lung cancer experience high symptom burden at end of life (EOL), yet hospice enrollment often happens late or not at all. Receipt of medications to manage symptoms in the outpatient setting, outside the Medicare hospice benefit, has not been described.
Objectives: We examined patterns of symptom management medication receipt at EOL for older adults who died of lung cancer.
Methods: This retrospective cohort used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results—Medicare database to identify decedents diagnosed with lung cancer at age 67 years and older between January 2008 and December 2013 who survived six months and greater after diagnosis. Using Medicare Part B and D claims, we identified monthly receipt of outpatient medications for symptomatic management of pain, emotional distress, fatigue, dyspnea, anorexia, and nausea/vomiting. Multivariable logistic regression estimated associations between medication receipt and patient demographic characteristics, comorbidity, and concurrent therapy.
Results: Of the 16,246 included patients, large proportions received medications for dyspnea (70.7%), pain (62.5%), and emotional distress (49.4%), with lower prevalence for other symptoms. Medication receipt increased from six months to one month before death. Women and dual Medicaid enrolled were more likely to receive medications for pain, emotional distress, dyspnea, and nausea/vomiting. Receipt of symptom management medications decreased with increasing age and racial/ethnical minorities.
Conclusion: Symptom management medication receipt was common and increasing toward EOL. Lower use by males, older adults, and nonwhites may reflect poor access or poor patient-provider communication. Further research is needed to understand these patterns and assess adequacy of symptom management in the outpatient setting.
Objectives: Common terminal phase symptoms include pain, dyspnoea, anxiety, terminal restlessness, nausea and noisy breathing. This study identified the proportion of community pharmacies across two Australian states stocking medicines useful in managing terminal phase symptoms, while exploring factors considered predictive of pharmacies carrying these medicines.
Methods: Community pharmacies from across the states of New South Wales (NSW) and South Australia (SA) were concurrently mailed a survey. Respondents were asked questions relating to medicines stocked, expiry date of stock, awareness of people with palliative care needs and demographic characteristics of the pharmacy. A ‘prepared pharmacy’ was defined as a pharmacy that held medicines useful in the management of terminal phase symptoms.
Results: The proportion of prepared pharmacies across NSW and SA was 21.9%. Multiple logistic regression demonstrated eight predictors of prepared pharmacies, of which awareness of people with palliative needs using their service was the strongest.
Conclusions: One-fifth of community pharmacies carry formulations useful in managing terminal phase symptoms. The main factor associated with this was awareness of people with palliative needs using the pharmacy. Strategies that engage with pharmacists in anticipation of the terminal phase are critical, supporting people with palliative needs to remain at home to die, if desired.
BACKGROUND: Patients in the last phase of their lives often use many medications. Physicians tend to lack awareness that reviewing the usefulness of medication at the end of patients' lives is important. The aim of this study is to gain insight into the perspectives of patients, informal caregivers, nurses and physicians on the role of nurses in medication management at the end of life.
METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients in the last phase of their lives, in hospitals, hospices and at home; and with their informal caregivers, nurses and physicians. Data were qualitatively analyzed using the constant comparative method.
RESULTS: Seventy-six interviews were conducted, with 17 patients, 12 informal caregivers, 15 nurses, 20 (trainee) medical specialists and 12 family physicians. Participants agreed that the role of the nurse in medication management includes: 1) informing, 2) supporting, 3) representing and 4) involving the patient, their informal caregivers and physicians in medication management. Nurses have a particular role in continuity of care and proximity to the patient. They are expected to contribute to a multidimensional assessment and approach, which is important for promoting patients' interest in medication management at the end of life.
CONCLUSIONS: We found that nurses can and should play an important role in medication management at the end of life by informing, supporting, representing and involving all relevant parties. Physicians should appreciate nurses' input to optimize medication management in patients at the end of life. Health care professionals should recognize the role the nurses can have in promoting patients' interest in medication management at the end of life. Nurses should be reinforced by education and training to take up this role.
BACKGROUND: The management of medicines towards the end of life can place increasing burdens and responsibilities on patients and families. This has received little attention yet it can be a source of great difficulty and distress patients and families. Dose administration aids can be useful for some patients but there is no evidence for their wide spread use or the implications for their use as patients become increasing unwell. The study aimed to explore how healthcare professionals describe the support they provide for patients to manage medications at home at end of life.
METHODS: Qualitative interview study with thematic analysis. Participants were a purposive sample of 40 community healthcare professionals (including GPs, pharmacists, and specialist palliative care and community nurses) from across two English counties.
RESULTS: Healthcare professionals reported a variety of ways in which they tried to support patients to take medications as prescribed. While the paper presents some solutions and strategies reported by professional respondents it was clear from both professional and patient/family caregiver accounts in the wider study that rather few professionals provided this kind of support. Standard solutions offered included: rationalising the number of medications; providing different formulations; explaining what medications were for and how best to take them. Dose administration aids were also regularly provided, and while useful for some, they posed a number of practical difficulties for palliative care. More challenging circumstances such as substance misuse and memory loss required more innovative strategies such as supporting ways to record medication taking; balancing restricted access to controlled drugs and appropriate pain management and supporting patient choice in medication use.
CONCLUSIONS: The burdens and responsibilities of managing medicines at home for patients approaching the end of life has not been widely recognised or understood. This paper considers some of the strategies reported by professionals in the study, and points to the great potential for a more widely proactive stance in supporting patients and family carers to understand and take their medicines effectively. By adopting tailored, and sometimes, 'outside the box' thinking professionals can identify immediate, simple solutions to the problems patients and families experience with managing medicines.
Continuous deep sedation (CDS) is used to alleviate unbearable and otherwise refractory symptoms in patients dying of cancer. No data are available concerning CDS in children from Japan to date. This study primarily aimed to describe experience in CDS in child cancer patients at Kyoto University Hospital. The secondary aims were to identify the characteristics of patients who received CDS, and to assess ability in daily living at the end of life. A retrospective chart review was performed for child cancer patients who died at the institute between 2008 and 2017. The data of 35 patients were analyzed. Nine (26%) patients had received CDS. Indications for CDS were dyspnea (56%), agitation (22%), seizures (22%), and pain (11%). Midazolam was used in all nine cases. In eight (89%) patients, opioids were also prescribed. In seven (78%) patients, CDS was performed for < 48 hours. In all nine cases, consent was obtained from the parent(s) but not from the children. CDS was more likely in patients with solid tumors (p = 0.018) and those who had received no respite sedation (p = 0.002). Patients without central nervous system symptoms tended to maintain their capacity for oral intake and verbal communication until a few days prior to death. This is the first report on CDS in child cancer patients from Japan. In the CDS literature, cross-study differences are evident for incidence, target symptoms, duration, and the decision-making process. Further international discussion is warranted concerning indications for CDS and the decision-making process.
Doctors, nurses, and family caregivers worldwide are facing tough decisions concerning the supply and administration of medications to manage symptoms when patients are dying from covid-19 or other conditions in the community or care homes. Proposed changes in practice aimed at ensuring adequate end-of-life symptom control need careful consideration alongside appropriate training and support.
Updated UK advice, including NICE rapid guidance on managing covid-19 symptoms in the community, reiterates the importance of prescribing medications in advance of need for pain, nausea and vomiting, agitation, and respiratory secretions. These drugs may be administered if needed by visiting doctors or nurses, as is already well established in some countries. However, this practice is being overhauled radically in response to the pandemic.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has brought a tsunami of suffering that is devastating even well resourced countries. The disease has wreaked havoc on health systems and generated immense losses for families, communities, and economies, in addition to the growing death toll. Patients, caregivers, health-care providers, and health systems can benefit from the extensive knowledge of the palliative care community and by taking heed of long-standing admonitions to improve access to essential medicines, particularly opioids for the relief of breathlessness and pain.
Purpose: We studied the prevalence of medications of questionable benefit in the last 6 months of life among older nursing home residents with and without dementia in Germany.
Methods: a retrospective cohort study was conducted on claims data from 67,328 deceased nursing home residents aged 65+ years who were admitted between 2010 and 2014. We analyzed prescription regimens of medications of questionable benefit in the 180–91-day period and the 90-day period prior to death for residents with dementia (n = 29,052) and without dementia (n = 38,276). Factors associated with new prescriptions of medications of questionable benefit prior to death were analyzed using logistic regression models among all nursing home residents and stratified by dementia.
Results: A higher proportion of nursing home residents with dementia were prescribed at least one medication of questionable benefit in the 180–91-day (29.6%) and 90-day (26.8%) periods prior to death, compared with residents without dementia (180–91 days, 22.8%; 90 days, 20.1%). Lipid-lowering agents were the most commonly prescribed medications. New prescriptions of medications of questionable benefit were more common among residents with dementia (9.8% vs. 8.7%). When excluding anti-dementia medication, new prescriptions of these medications were more common among residents without dementia (6.4% vs. 8.0%). The presence of dementia (odds ratio [OR] 1.40, 95% confidence interval [95%CI] 1.32–1.48) and excessive polypharmacy were associated with new prescriptions of medications of questionable benefit prior to death (OR 4.74, 95%CI 4.15–5.42).
Conclusion: even when accounting for anti-dementia prescriptions, the prevalence of nursing home residents with dementia receiving medications of questionable benefit is considerable and may require further attention.
Purpose: To determine the use of avoidable medications in end-of-life patients living at home when they were moved from the general practice setting to the palliative medicine physician (T1) and before death (T2).
Methods: This retrospective longitudinal study describes the prevalence of end-of-life patients cared for at home between April 2016 and December 2018 receiving preventive and symptomatic drug treatments. Socio-demographic data, diagnosis and drug treatments for each patient were collected in a web-based Case Report Form.
Results: The study sample comprised 1565 end-of-life patients with a median age (25–75 percentile) of 79.8 (72.5–85.3 years). All patients were treated with symptomatic drugs, and there were significantly fewer patients from T1 to T2 with at least one preventive medication at end of life (92.1% and, 60.8%, p < 0.0001). There was a significant variability between the palliative care physicians in the mean numbers of avoidable preventive medication (1.5–3.9 at T1 and 0.4–2.7 at T2, p = 0.06) prescribed.
Conclusion: More than half end-of-life patients living at home still receive avoidable medications. Drug prescription needs to be improved and palliative care setting could have an important role in reducing potentially inappropriate prescriptions. Emphasizing the positive aspects of stopping medicines, shared criteria with de-prescribing guidelines for potentially inappropriate medication in end-of-life patients and multidisciplinary discussion with involvement of patient and family caregivers could be useful to rationalize drug therapy.
This article will focus on the following objectives specific to end-of-life care for professional case management:
Discuss recent industry topics that influence care processes.
Explore the opioid epidemic's impact on pain management.
Identify terms associated with end-of-life and life-limiting care.
Understand types of advance directives and care defining tools.
Define the purpose of psychiatric advance directives.
Discuss the shifting diagnostic face.
Discuss how inclusion manifests for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ) population.
Explore challenges working through adolescent decision making and treatment.
Review regulation and reimbursement shifts across the industry.
Identify the use of artificial intelligence.
Discuss the value of ethics committees in health care organizations.
Define the Four Cs of Care Considerations.
Identify ethical principles for consideration by the workforce.
Background: A substantial number of older adults die in residential aged care facilities, yet little is known about the characteristics of and how best to optimise medication use in the last year of life.
Aim: The aim of this review was to map characteristics of medication use in aged care residents during the last year of life in order to examine key concepts related to medication safety and draw implications for further research and service provision.
Design: A scoping review following Arskey and O’Malley’s framework was conducted using a targeted keyword search, followed by assessments of eligibility based on title and content of abstracts and full papers. Following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, the scoping review protocol was prospectively registered to the Open Science Framework on 27 November 2018.
Data Sources: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, AMED, CINAHL and Cochrane databases to identify peer-reviewed studies published between 1937 and 2018, written in English and looking at medication use in individuals living in aged care facilities within their last year of life.
Results: A total of 30 papers were reviewed. Five key overarching themes were derived from the analysis process: (1) access to medicines at the end of life, (2) categorisation and classes: medicines and populations, (3) polypharmacy and total medication numbers, (4) use of symptomatic versus preventive medications and (5) ‘inappropriate’ medications.
Conclusion: Number of prescriptions or blunt categorisations of medications to assess their appropriateness are unlikely to be sufficient to promote well-being and medication safety for older people in residential aged care in the final stages of life.
Background/objectives: Opioids relieve symptoms in terminal care. We studied opioid underuse in long-term care facilities, defined as residents without opioid prescription despite pain and/or dyspnoea, 3 days prior to death.
Design and setting: In a proportionally stratified randomly selected sample of long-term care facilities in six European Union countries, nurses and long-term care facility management completed structured after-death questionnaires within 3 months of residents’ death.
Measurements: Nurses assessed pain/dyspnoea with Comfort Assessment in Dying with Dementia scale and checked opioid prescription by chart review. We estimated opioid underuse per country and per symptom and calculated associations of opioid underuse by multilevel, multivariable analysis.
Results: nurses’ response rate was 81.6%, 95.7% for managers. Of 901 deceased residents with pain/dyspnoea reported in the last week, 10.6% had dyspnoea, 34.4% had pain and 55.0% had both symptoms. Opioid underuse per country was 19.2% (95% confidence interval: 12.9–27.2) in the Netherlands, 25.2% (18.3–33.6) in Belgium, 29.3% (16.9–45.8) in England, 33.7% (26.2–42.2) in Finland, 64.6% (52.0–75.4) in Italy and 79.1% (71.2–85.3) in Poland (p < 0.001). Opioid underuse was 57.2% (33.0–78.4) for dyspnoea, 41.2% (95% confidence interval: 21.9–63.8) for pain and 37.4% (19.4–59.6) for both symptoms (p = 0.013). Odds of opioid underuse were lower (odds ratio: 0.33; 95% confidence interval: 0.20–0.54) when pain was assessed.
Conclusion: Opioid underuse differs between countries. Pain and dyspnoea should be formally assessed at the end-of-life and taken into account in physicians orders.