CONTEXT: Hospice care focuses on improving the quality of end-of-life care and respecting patients' preferences regarding end-of-life treatment. The impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the utilization of hospice services is unknown.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate the utilization of hospice care services before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
METHODS: All patients (n = 19,900) cared for at Taipei City Hospital from January 2019 to April 2020 were divided into three time points: January-April 2019 (before COVID-19), May-December 2019 (interim), and January-April 2020 (during COVID-19). This cohort study compared the monthly utilization of hospice services before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
RESULTS: There was no significant difference in hospice home visits (194 vs. 184; P = 0.686) and new enrollments (15 vs. 14; P = 0.743) to hospice home care before and during the pandemic. However, the bed occupancy rate in hospice units in the hospital was significantly reduced from 66.2% before the pandemic to 37.4% during the pandemic (P = 0.029), whereas that in non-hospice units had a non-significant decrease from 81.6% before the pandemic to 71.8% during the pandemic (P = 0.086). During the pandemic, the number of inpatient days in hospice units was affected more severely than in non-hospice units (-42.4% vs.-10.9%; P = 0.029).
CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that hospice home care services were maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic, while the utilization of hospice inpatient care services reduced. Home care for hospice patients is an essential component of palliative care during a pandemic.
Objective: The ‘surprise question’ (SQ) and the palliative care screening tool (PCST) are the common assessment tools in the early identification of patients requiring palliative care. However, the comparison of their prognostic accuracies has not been extensively studied. This study aimed to compare the prognostic accuracy of SQ and PCST in terms of recognising patients nearing end of life (EOL) and those appropriate for palliative care.
Methods: This prospective study used both the SQ and PCST to predict patients’ 12-month mortality and identified those appropriate for palliative care. All adult patients admitted to Taipei City Hospital in 2015 were included in this cohort study. The c-statistic value was calculated to indicate the predictive accuracies of the SQ and PCST.
Results: Out of 21 109 patients, with a mean age of 62.8 years, 12.4% and 11.1% had a SQ response of ‘no’ and a PCST score of =4, respectively. After controlling for other covariates, an SQ response of ‘no’ and a PCST score of =4 were the independent predictors of 12-month mortality. The c-statistic values of the SQ and PCST at recognising patients in their last year of life were 0.680 and 0.689, respectively. When using a combination of both SQ and PCST in predicting patients’ 12-month mortality risk, the predictive value of the c-statistic increased to 0.739 and was significantly higher than either one in isolation (p<0.001).
Conclusion: A combination of the SQ with PCST has better prognostic accuracy than either one in isolation.
Context: Programs identifying patients needing palliative care and promoting advance care planning (ACP) are rare in Asia.
Objectives: This interventional cohort study aimed to identify hospitalized patients with palliative care needs using a validated Palliative Care Screening Tool (PCST), examine the ability of the PCST to predict mortality, and explore effects of a pragmatic ACP program targeted by PCST on the utilisation of life-sustaining treatment during the last three months of life.
Methods: In this prospective study, we used PCST to evaluate patients’ palliative care needs between 2015 and 2016 and followed patients for 3 months. ACP with advance directives (AD) were systematically offered to all patients with PCST score =4.
Results: Of 47,153 hospitalized patients, 10.4% had PCST score =4. During follow-up, 2,121 individuals died within three months of palliative care screening: 1,225 (25.0%) with PCST score =4 and 896 (2.1%) with PCST score <4. After controlling for co-variates, PCST score =4 was significantly associated with a higher mortality within 3 months of screening (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 6.86; 95% confident interval [CI], 6.16-7.63). Moreover, ACP consultation (AOR=0.78, 95%CI: (0.66-0.92) and AD completion (AOR=0.49, 95%CI: 0.36-0.65) were associated with a lower likelihood of receiving life-sustaining treatments during the last 3 months of life.
Conclusions: We demonstrated the feasibility of implementing a comprehensive palliative care program to identify patients with palliative care needs and promote ACP and AD in East Asia. ACP consultation and AD completion were associated with reduced utilization of life-sustaining treatments during the last 3 months of life.
CONTEXT: Evidence is mixed regarding the impact of advance directives (ADs) on the utilization of end-of-life treatments.
OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated the effect of AD on the utilization of end-of-life treatments during the last month of life in older patients.
METHODS: Taipei City Hospital initiated an advance care planning program to promote AD for admitted patients in 2015. This prospective study recruited deceased older patients who completed advance care planning communication between 2015 and 2016. Multiple logistic regression was used to determine the association of AD completion with utilization of life-sustaining treatments.
RESULTS: Of 1307 deceased older patients, overall mean age was 84.1 years and 78.7% of the subjects had AD completion. During the study follow-up period, 31 older patients received life-sustaining treatments during the last month of life, including 17 patients (1.7%) with AD completion and 14 patients (5.0%) without AD completion. After adjusting for the sociodemographic factors and co-morbidities, older patients with AD completion were less likely to receive life-sustaining treatments during the last month of life (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.32, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.16-0.67). Considering type of life-sustaining treatments, AD completion was associated with a lower likelihood of receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (AOR = 0.21, 95% CI: 0.06-0.70) as well as intubation and mechanical ventilation support (AOR = 0.32, 95% CI: 0.14-0.70) during the last month of life in older patients.
CONCLUSION: AD completion was associated with a lower likelihood of receiving life-sustaining treatments during the last month of life in older patients. These findings support the continued use of AD in older population.
BACKGROUND: Although advance directives (AD) have been implemented for years in western countries, the concept of AD is not promoted extensively in eastern countries. In this study we evaluate a program to systematically conduct advance care planning (ACP) communication for hospitalized patients in Taiwan and identify the factors associated with AD completion.
METHODS: In this retrospective evaluation of a clinical ACP program, we identified adult patients with chronic life-limiting illness admitted to Taipei City Hospital between April 2015 and January 2016. Trained healthcare providers held an ACP meeting to discuss patients' preference regarding end-of-life care and AD completion. A multiple logistic regression was performed to determine the factors associated with the AD completion.
RESULTS: A total of 2878 patients were determined to be eligible for ACP during the study, among which 1798 (62.5%) completed ACP and data was available for 1411 patients (49.1%). Of the 1411 patients who received ACP communication with complete data, the rate of AD completion was 82.6%. The overall mean (SD) age was 78.2 (14.4) years. Adjusting for other variables, AD completion was associated with patients aged = 85 years [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.80, 95% CI 1.21–2.67], critical illness (AOR = 1.17, 95% CI 1.06–1.30), and social workers participating in ACP meetings (AOR = 1.74, 95% CI 1.24–2.45).
CONCLUSION: The majority of inpatients with chronic life-limiting illness had ACP communication as part of this ACP program and over 80% completed an AD. Our study demonstrates the feasibility of implementing ACP discussion in East Asia and suggests that social workers may be an important component of ACP communication with patients.