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.
BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Very few studies have investigated the screening tools that aim to identify the need of palliative care services among patients with advanced cancer or chronic non-malignant diseases. This study validated the one-page Taiwanese version-Palliative Care Screening Tool (TW-PCST) for screening inpatients with potential palliative care needs.
METHOD: ROC curves were produced to examine the sensitivities and specificities at varying cut-off points. The optimal cut-off value to predict mortality was justified using the Youden's index. The screening was conducted on the first day of admission. Patients were prospectively followed-up after the baseline assessment. Three followed-up periods, namely 14 days, 90 days, and 180 days were analyzed.
RESULTS: A total of 21,596 patients were screened. AUCs for all cut-off scores varied from 0.84 to 0.88. A total-ABCD score =2 gave the highest Youden’s index for 90 days and 180 days follow-up periods. The optimal cut-point for 14 days was score =3.
CONCLUSIONS: The TW-PCST demonstrated a good sensitivity and specificity in identification of inpatients with palliative care needs. A total-ABCD score =2 may be considered as a trigger for further referral.