We propose that the palliative care team response will occur in two ways: first, communication and second, symptom management. Our experience with discussing goals of care with the family of a COVID-positive patient highlighted some expected and unexpected challenges. We describe these challenges along with recommendations for approaching these conversations. We also propose a framework for proactively mobilizing the palliative care workforce to aggressively address goals of care in all patients, with the aim of reducing the need for rationing of resources.
Specialist palliative care services (SPCS) have a vital role to play in the global coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Core expertise in complex symptom management, decision making in uncertainty, advocacy and education, and ensuring a compassionate response are essential, and SPCS are well positioned to take a proactive approach in crisis management planning. SPCS resource capacity is likely to be overwhelmed, and consideration needs to be given to empowering and supporting high-quality primary palliative care in all care locations. Our local SPCS have developed a Palliative Care Pandemic Pack to disseminate succinct and specific information, guidance, and resources designed to enable the rapid upskilling of nonspecialist clinicians needing to provide palliative care. It may be a useful tool for our SPCS colleagues to adapt as we face this global challenge collaboratively.
BACKGROUND: Antimicrobials are frequently prescribed to terminally-ill patients with cancer; however, physicians' practice patterns regarding antimicrobial use vary widely. This study aimed to systematically identify factors that determine physicians' attitudes toward the management of infectious diseases in terminally-ill patients with cancer.
METHODS: A nationwide cross-sectional survey involving 600 oncologists, 600 infectious diseases physicians, 600 palliative care physicians, and 220 home care physicians was conducted between November 2017 and January 2018. The primary endpoint was physicians' attitudes toward the management of infectious diseases in terminally-ill patients with cancer with a few weeks of prognosis. Physicians' beliefs regarding management of infectious diseases as well as physician-perceived 'good death' were also assessed (1=strongly disagree-6=strongly agree).
RESULTS: There were 895 (44.3%) analyzable response, and average scores of physicians' attitudes ranged between 2.69 and 4.32 In total, 241 (27%; 95%CI=24-30) to 691 (78%; 95%CI=75-81) respondents showed proactive attitudes toward various infectious diseases management. In linear regression analysis, determinants of proactive attitudes included: physicians' belief that examination and treatment will improve quality of life and prognosis and reduce suffering (ß=0.32, t=9.99, p=0.00); greater physician-perceived importance on receiving enough treatment (ß=0.09, t=2.88, p=0.00) and less importance on dying a natural death (ß=-0.07, t=-2.14, p=0.03) for a 'good death'; working at a tertiary care hospital (ß=0.16, t=4.40, p=0.00); and not being a home care physician (ß=-0.20, t=-5.51, p=0.00) or palliative care physician (ß=-0.12, t=-3.64, p=0.00).
CONCLUSIONS: Physicians have divergent attitudes toward the management of infectious diseases in terminally-ill patients with cancer. Reflection by physicians on their own beliefs and perceptions regarding infectious disease management and a 'good death' may help provide the best end-of-life care.
INTRODUCTION: Patients with cancer are at high risk of developing pressure ulcers at the end of life as a result of their underlying condition or cancer treatment. There are many guidelines which set out best practice with regard to end-of-life skin care. However, the complexity of palliative cancer care often means that it is challenging for nurses to make the appropriate person-centred decisions about end-of-life skin care. This study seeks to explore the perceived importance that nurses place on different factors in their end-of-life skin care for patients with cancer. The utility, face validity and content validity of a prototype decision-making tool for end-of-life skin care will also be evaluated.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: A mixed-method design will be used to gather data from primary and secondary care nurses working in different hospitals and local authority areas across Wales. Clinical vignettes will be used to gather qualitative and quantitative data from nurses in individual interviews. Qualitative data will be subject to thematic analysis and quantitative data will be subject to descriptive statistical analysis. Qualitative and quantitative data will then be synthesised, which will enhance the rigour of this study, and pertinently inform the further development of an end-of-life skin care decision-making tool for patients with cancer.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethical approval to undertake the study has been granted by Cardiff University School of Healthcare Sciences Research Governance and Ethics Screening Committee. Informed consent will be obtained in writing from all the participants in this study. The results of this study will be disseminated through journal articles, as well as presentations at national and international conferences. We will also report our findings to patient and public involvement groups with an interest in improving cancer care, palliative care as well as skin care.
Delirium occurs frequently at end of life. Palliative care clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are involved in community palliative care provision. Many patients prefer being cared for at home, yet managing delirium in this setting presents unique challenges, potentially resulting in emergency hospital or hospice admission. We examined the experiences and practice of palliative care CNSs managing delirium in the community; 10 interviews were undertaken. Data were analysed using the framework approach. Challenges to delirium management in the community included limited time with patients, reliance on families and access to medications. Assessment tools were not used routinely; time limited visits and inconsistent retesting were perceived barriers. Management approaches differed depending on CNSs' previous delirium education. Strategies to prevent delirium were not used. Community delirium management presents challenges; support surrounding these could be beneficial. Routine assessment tool use and delirium prevention strategies should be included in further education and research.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder, with a continuously increasing prevalence. With improved clinical and therapeutic management of PD, more patients reach later stages of the disease, meaning they may face new clinical problems that were not commonly approached. This gave way to the description of a new PD stage, late-stage PD (LSPD), which is clinically discernible from the advanced-stage one. Therefore, LSPD patients have new and different needs, regarding pharmacological and non pharmacological interventions, including palliative care and multidisciplinary teams. LSPD patients constitute an‘orphan population’, who traditionally was excluded from previous studies, due to its high disability. With this manuscript, we intend to review specific management challenges of LSPD patients, covering this new concept and its clinical features, how to assess these patients, therapeutic recommendations, as well as discussing ongoing research and future perspectives.
Du fait des multiples formes de la douleur, sa prise en charge est à géométrie variable. L’évaluation, son retentissement, son traitement, l’évaluation du bénéfice et les effets secondaires sont à chaque fois un modèle singulier.
Medical emergencies at the end of life require recognition of patients at risk, so that a comprehensive assessment and plan of care can be put in place. Frequently, the interventions depend on the patient's underlying prognosis, location of care, and goals of care. The mere presence of a medical emergency often rapidly changes an estimated prognosis. Education of the patient and family may help empower them to adequately handle many situations when clinicians are not available.
Palliative care is an important component of the medical response to pandemics and other health emergencies. The principles of palliative care do not change, but the practice of palliative care has to change as a result of factors such as greater demand and infection control measures. This article makes suggestions for palliative care provision during a pandemic (in developed countries), based on a limited review of the literature and personal experience of the ongoing pandemic (COVID-19 infection).
Balancing the risk of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for patients with cancer and health-care workers with the need to continue to provide effective treatment and care is changing how oncology teams work worldwide. “The pandemic has meant a transformation of every aspect of cancer care, irrespective of treatment, inpatient or outpatient, and radical or palliative intent,” said James Spicer (Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK).
Context: The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading across the world. Many patients will not be suitable for mechanical ventilation owing to the underlying health conditions, and they will require a conservative approach including palliative care management for their important symptom burden.
Objectives: To develop a management plan for patients who are not suitable for mechanical ventilation that is tailored to the stage their COVID-19 disease.
Methods: Patients were identified as being stable, unstable, or at the end of life using the early warning parameters for COVID-19. Furthermore, a COVID-19–specific assessment tool was developed locally, focusing on key symptoms observed in this population which assess dyspnoea, distress, and discomfort. This tool helped to guide the palliative care management as per patients' disease stage.
Results: A management plan for all patients' (stable, unstable, end of life) was created and implemented in acute hospitals. Medication guidelines were based on the limitations in resources and availability of drugs. Staff members who were unfamiliar with palliative care required simple, clear instructions to follow including medications for key symptoms such as dyspnoea, distress, fever, and discomfort. Nursing interventions and family involvement were adapted as per patients' disease stage and infection control requirements.
Conclusion: Palliative care during the COVID-19 pandemic needs to adapt to an emergency style of palliative care as patients can deteriorate rapidly and require quick decisions and clear treatment plans. These need to be easily followed up by generalist staff members caring for these patients. Furthermore, palliative care should be at the forefront to help make the best decisions, give care to families, and offer spiritual support.
Context: The COVID-19 pandemic created a rapid and unprecedented shift in our medical system. Medical providers, teams, and organizations have needed to shift their visits away from face-to-face visits and toward telehealth (both by phone and through video). Palliative care teams who practice in the community setting are faced with a difficult task: How do we actively triage the most urgent visits while keeping our vulnerable patients safe from the pandemic?
Measures: The following are recommendations created by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Palliative Care and Support Services team to help triage and coordinate for timely, safe, and effective palliative care in the community and outpatient setting during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Patients are initially triaged based on location followed by acuity. Interdisciplinary care is implemented using strict infection control guidelines in the setting of limited personal protective equipment (PPE) resources. We implement thorough screening for COVID-19 symptoms at multiple levels before a patient is seen by a designated provider.
Conclusions/Lessons Learned: We recommend active triaging, communication, frequent screening for COVID-19 symptoms for palliative care patients been evaluated in the community setting. An understanding of infection risk, mutual consent between designated providers, patients, and their families are crucial to maintaining safety while delivering community-based palliative care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
BACKGROUND: High incidence of treatable oral conditions has been reported among palliative patients. However, a large proportion of palliative patients lose their ability to communicate their sufferings. Therefore, it may lead to under-reporting of oral conditions among these patients. This review systematically synthesized the published evidence on the presence of oral conditions among palliative patients, the impact, management, and challenges in treating these conditions.
METHODS: An integrative review was undertaken with defined search strategy from five databases and manual search through key journals and reference list. Studies which focused on oral conditions of palliative patients and published between years 2000 to 2017 were included.
RESULTS: Xerostomia, oral candidiasis and dysphagia were the three most common oral conditions among palliative patients, followed by mucositis, orofacial pain, taste change and ulceration. We also found social and functional impact of having certain oral conditions among these patients. In terms of management, complementary therapies such as acupuncture has been used but not well explored. The lack of knowledge among healthcare providers also posed as a challenge in treating oral conditions among palliative patients.
CONCLUSIONS: This review is first in its kind to systematically synthesize the published evidence regarding the impact, management and challenges in managing oral conditions among palliative patients. Although there is still lack of study investigating palliative oral care among specific group of patients such as patients with dementia, geriatric or pediatric advanced cancer patients, this review has however provided baseline knowledge that may guide health care professionals in palliative settings.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rapidly progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disorder with enormous palliative care (PC) needs that begin at the time of diagnosis. Although it is an uncommon disease, clinicians who work in PC or hospice are likely to encounter ALS somewhat frequently given the needs of patients with ALS with regard to psychosocial support, symptom management, advance care planning (ACP), caregiver support, and end-of-life care. As such, PC clinicians should be familiar with the basic principles of ALS symptoms, treatments, disease course, and issues around ACP. This article, written by a team of neurologists and PC physicians, seeks to provide PC clinicians with tips to improve their comfort and skills caring for patients with ALS and their families.
The aim of the study is to evaluate the intensity of symptoms, and any treatment and therapeutic procedures received by advanced chronic patients in nursing homes. A multi-centre prospective study was conducted in six nursing homes for five months. A nurse trainer selected palliative care patients from whom the sample was randomly selected for inclusion. The Edmonton Symptoms Assessment Scale, therapeutic procedures, and treatment were evaluated. Parametric and non-parametric tests were used to evaluate month-to-month differences and differences between those who died and those who did not. A total of 107 residents were evaluated. At the end of the follow-up, 39 had (34.6%) died. All symptoms (p < 0.050) increased in intensity in the last week of life. Symptoms were more intense in those who had died at follow-up (p < 0.05). The use of aerosol sprays (p = 0.008), oxygen therapy (p < 0.001), opioids (p < 0.001), antibiotics (p = 0.004), and bronchodilators (p = 0.003) increased in the last week of life. Peripheral venous catheters (p = 0.022), corticoids (p = 0.007), antiemetics (p < 0.001), and antidepressants (p < 0.05) were used more in the patients who died. In conclusion, the use of therapeutic procedures (such as urinary catheters, peripheral venous catheter placement, and enteral feeding) and drugs (such as antibiotics, anxiolytics, and new antidepressant prescriptions) should be carefully considered in this clinical setting.
Context: Dyspnea is one of the most distressing symptoms for terminally ill cancer patients and a predictor of poor prognosis. Identification of simple clinical signs, such as heart rate, indicating clinical course of each patient is of value.
Objectives: To explore the potential association between heart rate and reversibility of the symptom, treatment response to palliative intervention, and survival in terminally ill cancer patients with dyspnea at rest.
Methods: This is a secondary analysis of a multicenter prospective cohort study of patients with advanced cancer to validate multiple prognostic tools. In the patients with dyspnea at rest at the baseline, we examined a potential association between heart rate and the reversibility of dyspnea and refractoriness to palliative treatment using logistic regression analysis. Survivals were compared using the Cox proportional hazards model among four groups with different levels of the heart rate (=74, 75–84, 85–97, and =98).
Results: A total of 2298 patients were enrolled, and 418 patients (18%) had dyspnea at rest. Reversibility of dyspnea was significantly higher in the patients with lower heart rate (P for trend = 0.008), and the refractoriness to palliative treatment tended to be higher in the patients with higher heart rate (P for trend = 0.101). The median survival for each heart rate quartile groups was significantly higher in the lower heart rate group (24 vs. 21 vs. 14 vs. 9 days; heart rate =74, 75–84, 85–97, and =98, respectively; log-rank P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Heart rate may help clinicians to make the prediction of the patient's clinical course more accurate.
We aim to clarify the efficacy of early palliative balloon pulmonary valvuloplasty (BPV) in neonates and young infants (< 60 days) with tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). We performed palliative BPV in 31 subjects, regardless of the presence of cyanosis, with Z score of the pulmonary valve diameter (PVD) less than - 2.00. Primary and secondary endpoints were to avoid early surgical interventions for subjects within 6 months of age and to undergo the pulmonary valve-sparing procedure at corrective surgery, respectively. We studied factors associated with these outcomes among them. BPV was performed at 19 days (14–33) of age and with a weight of 3.34 kg (3.02–3.65). Systemic oxygen saturation, Z score of the PVD, and pulmonary arterial index (PAI) were 87% (81–91), - 3.56 (- 4.15 to - 2.62), and 128 mm2/m2 (102–157), respectively. There were 16 and 13 subjects who avoided early surgical interventions and transannular repair, respectively. At the primary endpoint, there was no significant difference in age, weight, systemic oxygen saturation, and Z score of the PVD and PAI between the groups. However, there was a significant difference in the infundibular morphology (severe: mild-to-moderate, 8:8 vs 13:2, P = 0.029) between the groups. We performed prophylactic BPV within 30 days after birth in 7 acyanotic TOF patients with severe infundibular obstruction, among whom 5 avoided early surgical intervention. At the secondary endpoint, there were no significant difference in weight, systemic oxygen saturation, but in sex, age at BPV, and Z score of the PVD. Early palliative BPV prevented early surgical intervention in half of the neonates and young infants with TOF, which depended upon the degree of infundibular obstruction. However, early palliative BPV did not contribute to avoid transanular patch right-ventricular outflow repair among them.
INTRODUCTION: Palliative care (PC) aims to treat symptoms independently of the disease. In many medical disciplines, including oncology, there is an emphasis on personalizing treatment, identifying the most effective therapeutic option by studying the genetic heritage of the patient and the molecular characteristics of the disease. PC, on the other hand, encompasses the overall (physical and spiritual) well-being of the patient and his or her caregivers. The increasing use of early PC and its integration with oncology could represent a fruitful collaboration among specialists.
CASE DESCRIPTION: We present the case of a 79-year-old woman with advanced breast cancer attending our institute who was referred to our PC Unit because of continuous ear pain, paresthesia around the mouth, strabismus, and facial dysesthesia. The patient was in good clinical condition (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group 1) and was undergoing chemotherapy at the time. For these reasons, the PC physician carefully assessed the pain characteristics and differential diagnosis and discussed them with the oncologist, radiologist, and neurologist. Joint consultation led to a specific study of Meckel cave by MRI, revealing an extrameningeal gasserian ganglion metastasis, a very rare localization of breast cancer.
CONCLUSION: We present a case that underlines the importance of specialized PC assessment not limited to the control of symptoms. The search for the etiopathogenesis of a patient's symptoms and the evaluation of overall clinical conditions may be necessary to plan appropriate diagnostic evaluations, target palliative therapies, and achieve effective symptom control.
Death is an inevitable part of living. There are undoubtedly clinical and psychological challenges when any individual is passing from life to death. For a person with a long-term condition such as diabetes, these challenges can be compounded and impact on the care and experience of both the individual and their families and carers. It is estimated that about 500,000 people die each year in the United Kingdom; of these approximately 75,000 will have diabetes. The vast majority of people with diabetes who die do not do so as a result of a metabolic diabetes emergency such as diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state. Whilst diabetes is listed as one of the top 10 causes of death in developed countries, death occurs more commonly as a result of cardiovascular disease, dementia, respiratory disease, or cancer. Life-long care of people with diabetes centres on glycaemic management and other modifiable clinical elements such as blood pressure, renal function, and cholesterol. These factors may become less important to healthcare professionals caring for the individual who is approaching the end of their life and for safety and holistic reasons clinical targets may be made more liberal. For the person dying and their families and carers this may be a difficult concept to accept. This article is based on the Diabetes UK (2018) Diabetes and End of Life: Clinical Care Recommendations. Offering a comprehensive guide to the management of diabetes through all the stages of dying it provides information on hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia prevention and treatment, and the care of people taking glucocorticoid therapy with a previously known and not known diagnosis of diabetes. Controversial areas of care are discussed where there has been no clear consensus.
Patients with tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) have impaired pulmonary flow due to an obstructed right ventricular outflow tract (RVOT), pulmonary valve or supravalvular stenosis, or hypoplastic pulmonary arteries. In newborns, alprostadil infusion provides the patency of the arterial duct, ensuring adequate pulmonary flow. As the next stage of treatment, some children may be referred for Blalock–Taussig or central aortopulmonary anastomosis as well as Brock operation with relief of RVOT obstruction.1-3 However, in some cases, interventional procedures including balloon valvuloplasty, RVOT, or arterial duct stent implantation seem to be the best option.