OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to explore the status of aggressive end-of-life care and symptom relief treatments in terminally ill patients who had discussed the withdrawal of mechanical ventilation.
METHODS: This research is a retrospective observational study based on a chart review. Terminal patients aged = 20 years, who were intubated with mechanical ventilation support, who underwent hospice-shared care, and who personally, or whose close relatives, had discussed the withdrawal of mechanical ventilation with hospice-shared care team members in a tertiary hospital in Taiwan during 2012 to 2015 were included. Demographics, medical conditions, and aggressive end-of-life care, including hospitalization, use of vasopressors, artificial nutrition, tube feeding, antibiotics, and symptom relief treatments including the use of opioids, steroids, and sedatives, were identified. The modes of care and treatments of patients by the status of withdrawal of mechanical ventilation were compared.
RESULTS: A total of 141 patients had discussed the withdrawal of mechanical ventilation, and 111 (78.7%) had been withdrawn. Aggressive end-of-life care was noted in all patients regardless of mechanical ventilation status. There were no significant differences in the number and pattern of aggressive end-of-life care measures between patients who had or had not been withdrawn. There were significantly higher rates of symptom relief treatments used in patients who had been withdrawn.
CONCLUSIONS: Aggressive end-of-life care is common for patients who have discussed the withdrawal of mechanical ventilation. There are significantly higher rates of symptom relief medications administered in patients who have been withdrawn from mechanical ventilation.
This study aimed to evaluate nurses’ experiences and factors related to their attitudes regarding discussions of do-not-resuscitate (DNR) and withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment (LST) with patients and their families. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in a tertiary hospital in Taiwan. Nurses aged = 20 years who were in charge of acute inpatient care were randomly recruited. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to evaluate participants’ experiences and attitudes regarding discussions of DNR and LST withdrawal for terminal patients. Logistic regression with adjustment for covariates was used to analyze factors related to participants’ attitudes toward discussions about DNR and LST withdrawal with patients and families in the future care of terminal patients. The participants were 132 nurses. They had significantly more discussions about DNR and LST withdrawal with patients’ families than with patients. Regression analysis showed that participants who had past experiences in actively initiating DNR discussions with patients or patients’ families were significantly more likely to discuss DNR with patients in the future care of terminal patients, but participants aged 40.0 to 60.0 years were significantly less likely to have DNR discussions than those aged 20.0 to 29.9 years. Experiences of actively initiated DNR or LST discussions with patients’ families were significantly more likely to discuss DNR with patients’ families, but those aged 40.0 to 60.0 years were also significantly less likely to have DNR discussions than those aged 20.0 to 29.9 years. Experience in actively initiating discussions about LST withdrawal with patients’ families, being male, and possessing an education level higher than university were significantly related to LST withdrawal discussions with terminal patients or their families in the future. In conclusion, there need to be more discussions about DNR and LST withdrawal with patients. To protect patients’ autonomy and their rights to make decisions about their DNR and LST, measures are needed to facilitate DNR and LST discussions with patients to ensure better end-of-life care
BACKGROUND: In 2009, the Taiwanese national health insurance system substantially expanded hospice coverage for terminal cancer patients to include patients with end-stage brain, dementia, heart, lung, liver, and kidney diseases. This study aimed to evaluate differences in do-not-resuscitate (DNR) status and hospice care utilization between terminal cancer patients and advanced non-cancer patients after the policy change.
METHODS: Data were obtained from the Death and Hospice Palliative Care Database of Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan. The differences between cancer and non-cancer patients who died in this hospital between 2010 and 2015 were analyzed in terms of patient characteristics, rates of DNR orders, hospice care utilization, number of living days after DNR order, duration of survival (DOS) after hospice care enrollment, and the rate of late referral to hospice care.
RESULTS: Data for 8459 patients who died of cancer and major non-cancer terminal diseases were included. DNR order rate, hospice care utilization rate, and DOS were significantly higher for cancer patients than for non-cancer patients (p < 0.001, p < 0.001, and p < 0.001, respectively). The number of living days after DNR order and the late referral rate were significantly higher for non-cancer decedents than for cancer decedents (p < 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively). From 2010 to 2015, there were significantly increasing trends in the hospice utilization rate, number of living days after DNR order, and rate of late referral for the cancer group (p < 0.001, p = 0.001, and p < 0.001, respectively). For the non-cancer group, there were significantly increasing trends in the rate of DNR order, hospice utilization rate, and number of living days after DNR order (p < 0.001, p < 0.001, and p = 0.029, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: Further guidelines should be developed to help clinicians to promptly refer terminal cancer and non-cancer patients to hospice care. Considering the lower hospice utilization rate and the growing need for hospice care among terminal non-cancer patients, policymakers should consider how to improve the relevant levels of professional care to enhance the accessibility and availability of hospice care in Taiwan.