De plus en plus souvent, nous entendons parler d'euthanasie : que ce soit par les médias, par les politiques, par les services publics ou par diverses associations, la thématique est sur toutes les langues.
Cependant, force est de constater que le sujet est bien souvent abordé avec méconnaissance ou parti pris. Mon souhait est donc d'intervenir dans cet ouvrage pour décrire le plus fidèlement possible la très dure réalité qui entoure le processus d'euthanasie.
Non, la vie dans nos hôpitaux n'est pas - ou n'est plus - un long fleuve tranquille. Elle est en crue permanente, avec de nombreux débordements quotidiens. En tant que membre du personnel soignant, je constate combien il nous est difficile à nous, infirmiers, médecins, psychologues, assistants sociaux, de garder la tête hors de l'eau, lorsqu'il est question de ce qu'on appelle pompeusement "éthique".
Formée en France, je travaille en Belgique depuis 2015. Je suis médecin généraliste, diplômée en soins palliatifs après deux années de formation théorique et de stages. Avant 2015, j'ai travaillé en France en équipe mobile de soins palliatifs intra et extra hospitalière, ainsi qu'en unité de soins palliatifs.
Cet atlas présente les ressources pays par pays en matière de soins palliatifs : services pour adultes ou enfants, lits dédiés, composition et nombre d'équipes, tendance et objectifs des politiques nationales de santé des pays.
Cytochrome P450 3A (CYP3A) is the most relevant drug-metabolizing enzyme in human beings involved in the elimination of about 50% of the marketed drugs. Comprehensive in vivo data of CYP3A activity in palliative patients with haematological diseases are missing. Therefore, CYP3A activity was determined under real-life clinical conditions in patients to gain knowledge about dose adjustments for supportive therapies and symptom management in haematology. The single-arm, prospective trial obtained a 4-hours pharmacokinetic profile of midazolam after oral administration of a microdose as marker substance from each enrolled patient. Plasma concentrations of midazolam and its primary metabolite 1'-hydroxy-midazolam were quantified by mass spectrometry techniques. CYP3A activity was calculated as partial metabolic clearance from an established limited sampling area under the curve. All other drugs taken by the participating patients were considered as well as recent laboratory test results and the patients' diagnoses. Partial metabolic clearance of midazolam in patients with haematological diseases was highly variable (36.9 ± 52.7 L/h). In comparison with the CYP3A activity of healthy individuals, this was a highly significant 30% reduction of activity (P < 0.0001). Dosing of major CYP3A substrate drugs needs to be reduced in palliative patients with haematological diseases, otherwise escalation of debilitating symptoms due to drug interactions might occur.
CONTEXT: It is uncertain whether terminally ill schizophrenic cancer patients are hypoalgesic or have disparities in pain management.
OBJECTIVES: To analyze the dosage of opioids used in terminally ill cancer patients with and without schizophrenia.
METHODS: This is a population-based retrospective cohort study based on data derived from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. Patients aged > 20 and newly diagnosed between 2000 and 2012 with at least one of the six most common cancers were included. After 1:4 matching, 1001 schizophrenic cancer patients comprised the schizophrenia cohort, while 4004 cancer patients without schizophrenia comprised the non-schizophrenia cohort. The percentage of opioid use, accumulated dose, and average daily dose near the end of life were analyzed for each cohort using multiple logistic and linear regression models.
RESULTS: The percentage of opioid use was lower in the schizophrenic cohort than the non-schizophrenic cohort during the last month prior to death [69.6 % versus 84.8%, odd ratio (OR) = 0.40, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.34-0.48]. The accumulated dose of opioid consumption was also lower in the schizophrenic cohort (2407 mg versus 3694 mg, p value <0.05).
CONCLUSION: Near the end of life, cancer patients with schizophrenia use less opioid than their non-schizophrenic counterparts. Cognitive impairment may be a cause in the disparity in end-of-life care for terminally ill schizophrenic cancer patients. Thus, we should formulate a more accurate pain scale system and pay attention to their need for pain treatment.
CONTEXT: Medications commonly used for symptom control along with other known risk factors have the potential to prolong ventricular repolarization as measured by the QT interval on a standard ECG.
OBJECTIVES: To document the prevalence of a prolonged QTc interval in the palliative/oncology setting, compare automatic ECG QTc measurements with manual readings and identify any correlation between QTc prolongation and the use of drugs or other risk factors.
METHODS: A convenience sample of consecutive patients with cancer, admitted under or known to the palliative/supportive care teams in two metropolitan hospitals and willing to provide an ECG recording and basic demographic information including QTc risk factors were included. Both automated and manually calculated QTc intervals were recorded. Multivariable analysis was used to determine risk factors independently associated with prolonged QTc intervals.
RESULTS: Of the 389 participants, there was a significant difference in mean QTc between sites using automated but not manual calculations. Manual readings were therefore used with predetermined cut-offs of 0.44sec (males) and 0.46sec (females). 72 (18.5%) of participants had a prolonged QTc with 6 (1.5%) having a prolongation >0.50sec. "At-risk" drugs were being taken by 218 participants (56.0% of total cohort). Factors shown to be associated with QTc prolongation included age, gender, performance status and hypocalcaemia. No specific medication was associated with increased risk.
CONCLUSION: Although almost 20% of patients receiving palliative care had prolongation of QTc, the risk of serious consequences appeared to be low despite the frequent occurrence of risk factors.
Background: To the best of our knowledge, the change in opioid prescription patterns upon referral to a palliative care team (PCT) was not previously investigated in the Middle East.
Objective: This study aimed to explore the change in the pattern of opioid prescription and the pain scores before and after referring inpatients to a PCT.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of patients’ records including all inpatients =15 years newly referred to the PCT over a period of 21 months at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh.
Results: Of 631 patients, 52.3% were females, the median age was 54 years, and 96.7% had cancer. The proportion of patients on opioids before referral (83.4%) increased to 93.3% in the postreferral period, P < .0001. Patients receiving opioids on a regular basis increased from 31.9% before referral to 49.9% after referral to the PCT, P < .0001. Morphine was the most commonly prescribed opioid on a regular basis pre- and postreferral. Upon referral, the administration of opioids through the subcutaneous route increased from 3.7% to 10.9%, P < .0001. On average, pain scores were reduced by 1 point on a 0 to 10 numeric scale within 48 hours of seeing a patient by the PCT, P < .0001.
Conclusion: Patients referred to a PCT are likely to get their opioid prescription optimized and pain scores improved shortly after the PCT involvement. Patients with cancer-related pain requiring opioids should be referred to a PCT as early as possible.
The main goal of palliative care is to relieve suffering. Opioids are an essential part of the pharmacological options required to address suffering by helping to relieve the pain and chronic breathlessness that may be experienced by someone with a life-limiting illness. This paper considers the recent history and current issues of the 'opioid crisis' providing recommendations to which regulatory and peak bodies can work with the Australian government, ensuring consistent adherence to WHO guidelines maintaining access to evidence based opioid management for palliative care patients whilst actively avoiding unintended suffering restricted access can cause. The recommendations are as follows:Review of the Palliative Care schedule of the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme Support of prescribers with current evidence, clinical practice guidelines and regulatory frameworks National opioid prescribing policies promoting linkages between palliative care and pain and addiction specialists. National real time monitoring of all opioid prescriptions Palliative care involvement in all opioids stewardship programs in acute services. Reform Medical Benefits Schedule to improve access for primary and other speciality practitioners to provide palliative care services. Compulsory palliative care education in undergraduate medical, nursing and allied health tertiary courses. Adequate, consistent stock of evidence based opioids for palliative care in community pharmacies and residential aged care facilities.These recommendations provide the regulatory guidance required to ensure persons with life limiting illness have continued access to safe and effective medication that can relieve suffering.
OBJECTIVE: Opioids are the primary therapy for cancer-related pain in patients receiving palliative care. More states are legalizing medical cannabis, which may provide a pain management alternative for some of these patients. This study aimed to estimate the effect of cannabis on opioid use in patients with cancer receiving palliative care.
METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of patients with cancer at an academic medical center palliative care clinic. The primary outcome was change in morphine equivalent daily dose (MEDD) from baseline to 84-day follow-up in the cannabis plus opioid group compared to that in the opioid-only group.
RESULTS: A total of 83 patients were included: 61 in the opioid monotherapy group and 22 in the cannabis plus opioid group. An increase in MEDD from the baseline to 84 days was seen in both the opioid monotherapy and opioid plus cannabis group (28.8 vs. 10.8); however, the study lacked power to detect a statistical difference.
CONCLUSION: A possibly meaningful difference in MEDD increase was seen when comparing the opioid monotherapy group with the opioid plus cannabis group. However, the study was not powered to test this hypothesis; the findings suggest that further research is warranted to determine the impact of cannabis use on opioid dosing in patients receiving palliative care for cancer.
Palliative and end of life care forms an important part of the role of any doctor in training, and an awareness of a structured approach to managing common symptoms and end of life care is essential. Common symptoms include pain, nausea and vomiting, constipation, and breathlessness. Anticipatory prescribing of the 4 A's (analgesic, anti-emetic, anxiolytic, and anti-secretory) is a proactive approach to ensure medication is available, if required, for common symptoms in the last hours to days of life, such as pain, upper airway secretions, anxiety, and agitation. Prescribing or medication errors in relation to symptom control in palliative care can relate to individual errors, poor communication, poor care coordination, equipment and care planning. There are some important key points relating to prescribing to consider, for example, using recognized conversions when changing between opioids and from the oral to syringe drivers route; that diamorphine and morphine are not equipotent; prescribing liquid opioids in milligrams not millilitres where there are multiple concentrations available; making the indication for steroids clear when used, as they are multiple possible indications (and also their intended duration, to avoid unintended longer term sequelae of steroid use); and avoiding the use of oxygen for symptomatic relief of breathlessness in the absence of hypoxia.
Palliative care (PC) providers often prescribe psychotropic medications to address psychological and physical suffering of patients with serious medical illness. Consideration must be given to the significant medical comorbidities of the patients with serious medical illness. This article seeks to provide guidance on how to safety and effectively select a psychotropic agent for depression, anxiety, and other distressing symptoms for patients with serious illness. To do so, we draw upon a team of physicians and a pharmacist with training in psychiatric and PC to highlight the "Top 10" tips for selecting a psychotropic medication to provide relief for patients with serious medical illness.
The use of medical cannabis is increasing significantly throughout the United States in spite of limited and sometimes contradictory data about its effectiveness. Palliative care providers are being asked to consider cannabis as part of symptom-directed treatment regimens although many providers have limited experience recommending medical cannabis and were trained before it was commercially available. This article seeks to dispel myths about medical cannabis and provides a balanced view of the benefits and burdens of this therapeutic option, providing evidence where it exists and offering practicing clinicians guidance on conditions in which medical cannabis is likely to be helpful or burdensome.
Despite its complex pharmacology and its associated stigma from opioid addiction treatment, methadone remains a viable analgesic option for seriously ill adults and children. Oral methadone is the preferred route of administration and typically can be accomplished via methadone tablets, soluble tablets, or oral solutions of various concentrations. Still, select patients may be unable to tolerate oral methadone. This Fast Fact reviews nonoral formulations of methadone. See Fast Facts #75, 86, and 171 for additional methadone prescribing information.
Terminally ill cancer patients with limited life expectancies (LLEs) are often prescribed multiple medications to control acute symptoms associated with cancer such as dyspnoea, pain, nausea and vomiting, and anxiety. Medications are also commonly prescribed to prevent or treat other common, long-term comorbid conditions such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus and hyperlipidaemia. Early identification of unnecessary preventive medications at the end of life can improve quality of life. Limited research has investigated whether preventive medications are withdrawn in patients with terminal cancer. The aim of this project was to evaluate the prevalence of preventive medication use in terminally ill cancer patients with LLE of 6 months or less.
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BACKGROUND: Many palliative care health settings that care for children and young people (CYP) at the end of life use the buccal mucosa as a route of drug administration to manage the sudden onset of symptoms, such as seizures, agitation and dyspnoea, and for breakthrough pain management. The buccal route is a minimally invasive method that delivers fast symptom relief and is useful for those with swallowing impairment or reduced enteral absorption.
AIM: This paper reports on a small retrospective study involving 26 CYP who received end-of-life care between January and December 2017 to review the advantages and disadvantages of using buccal opioids for breakthrough pain relief with a focus on diamorphine as the preferred opioid.
METHOD: A retrospective case note review.
FINDINGS: This paper shares the clinical practice experiences from one UK organisation of care for CYP at the end of their lives and contributes to the growing body of pharmacological evidence.
CONCLUSION: Buccal opioids, specifically buccal diamorphine, are an effective strategy to treat breakthrough pain or dyspnoea in CYP.
BACKGROUND: Pain and opioid management are core ambulatory palliative care skills. Existing literature on how to manage opioid misuse/use disorder excludes patients found in palliative care settings, such as individuals with serious illness or those at the end of life.
OBJECTIVES: We conducted an exploratory study to: (1) Identify the challenges palliative care clinicians face when prescribing opioids in ambulatory settings and (2) explore factors that affect opioid decision-making.
METHODS: We recruited palliative care clinicians who prescribe opioids in ambulatory settings, which included open-ended questions and was conducted online. Results were analyzed qualitatively using a content analysis-based approach.
RESULTS: Eighty-three palliative care clinicians (mostly MDs/DOs) participated. Challenges faced when prescribing opioids included clinician differences in approach to care (eg, transitioning from another clinician with more permissive opioid prescribing), medication access (eg, inadequate pharmacy supply), resource constraints (eg, access to mental health and addiction expertise), managing problems outside the typical palliative care scope (eg addiction). Participants also discussed factors that influenced their opioid prescribing decisions, such as opioid-related harms and risks that they need to weigh; they also spoke about the necessity of considering other factors like the patient's environment, disease, treatment, and prognosis.
CONCLUSION: This study highlights the challenge of opioid management in patients with serious illness, particularly when misuse or substance use disorder is present, and suggests areas for future research focus. Our next step will be to establish consensus on approaches to opioid prescribing decision-making and policy in seriously ill patients presenting to ambulatory palliative care.
Background: Increasing the total opioid dose is the standard approach for managing uncontrolled cancer pain. Other than simply increasing the opioid dose, palliative care interventions are multidimensional and may improve pain control in the absence of opioid dose increase.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the proportion of patients referred to our inpatient palliative care (IPC) team who achieved clinically improved pain (CIP) without opioid dose increase.
Design: We reviewed consecutive patients referred to our IPC team.
Setting/Subjects: Eligibility criteria included (1) taking opioid medication; (2) having =2 consecutive visits with the IPC team; and (3) an Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) pain score =4 at consultation.
Measurements: We assessed patient demographics and clinical variables, including cancer type, opioid prescription data (type, route, and oral morphine equivalent daily dose [MEDD]), presence of opioid rotation, psychological consultation, changes in adjuvant medications (e.g., corticosteroids; antiepileptics—gabapentin and pregabalin; benzodiazepines; and neuroleptics), and achievement of CIP.
Results: Of the 300 patients enrolled, CIP was achieved in 196 (65%) patients. Of CIP patients, 85 (43%) achieved CIP without an increase in MEDD. CIP without MEDD increase was associated with more adjuvant medication changes (p = 0.003), less opioid rotation (p = 0.005), and lower symptom distress scale of ESAS (p = 0.04).
Conclusions: Nearly half of the patients achieved CIP without MEDD increase, suggesting that the multidimensional palliative care intervention is effective in improving pain control in many opioid-tolerant patients without the need to increase the opioid dose.
CONTEXT: Chronic pain (CP) is a major concern in cancer survivors. Often underreported by patients, it is both under-assessed and undertreated by care providers.
OBJECTIVES: To assess CP prevalence and related treatment in cancer survivors five years after diagnosis; to identify factors associated with prescribing opioids among survivors with CP, focusing on access to palliative care (PC).
METHODS: In 2015-2016, we interviewed 4,174 French patients diagnosed with cancer five years previously. Combining patient and clinical reported outcomes together with medico-administrative data, we studied factors associated with Step II and Step III opioid prescription in cancer survivors with CP. We performed multinomial logistic regression adjusting for various covariates, including self-reported health status variables and inpatient PC.
RESULTS: Five years after cancer diagnosis, 63.5% of the respondents reported current chronic pain (CP) (i.e., pain = 3 months). Of these, 64.6% and 14.4% were prescribed at least one Step II or Step III opioid, respectively. Only 1.9% had had inpatient PC since diagnosis. After adjustment for age, gender, clinical and self-reported variables, we found that the latter were more likely to receive Step III opioids (adjusted Relative Risk ratio: 5.33; 95% CI: 1.15, 24.58).
CONCLUSIONS: This study showed a high prevalence of CP five years after cancer diagnosis. Step III opioids were underprescribed but positively associated with inpatient PC. PC access in France remains limited, especially among cancer survivors. Integrating PC in oncology is essential to provide the best cancer-related symptoms management.
The 2016 Colorado End-of-Life Options Act includes a provision unique among states with such laws, specifically privileging individual health care professionals, including physicians and pharmacists, to choose whether to write and fill prescriptions for life-ending medications, such as high-dose secobarbital or various combinations of morphine, diazepam, beta-blockers, and digoxin, without regard to the position their employer has taken on the law. This provision virtually guaranteed the Colorado law would eventually be challenged, which happened in August 2019. The current legal case directly pits the conscience rights of individual health care professionals against those of religiously affiliated corporations. Because 5 of the top 10 US hospital systems by net revenue are now religiously affiliated, and these systems often restrict medical care in a variety of ways, how the case is resolved could have far-reaching implications for US health care, extending well beyond the relatively rare use of aid-in-dying medications at the end of life.
As palliative care (PC) moves upstream in the course of serious illness and the development of drugs and their indications rapidly expand, PC providers must understand common drug indications and adverse effects to ensure safe and effective prescribing. Pharmacists, experts in the nuances of medication management, are valuable resources and colleagues for PC providers. This article will offer PC providers 10 useful clinical pharmacy tips that PC pharmacists think all PC providers should know for safe and effective symptom management. Close collaboration with or addition of a trained pharmacist to your PC team can improve clinical care for all PC patients.