Background: Palliative care is highly relevant for patients with heart failure (HF), and there is a need for quantitative information on quality of care. Accordingly, this study aimed to develop a set of quality indicators (QIs) for palliative care of HF patients, and to conduct a practical pilot measurement of the proposed QIs in clinical practice.
Methods and Results: We used a modified Delphi technique, a consensus method that involves a comprehensive literature review, face-to-face multidisciplinary panel meeting, and anonymous rating in 2 rounds. A 15-member multidisciplinary expert panel individually rated each potential indicator on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 9 (highest) for appropriateness. All indicators receiving a median score =7 without significant disagreement were included in the final set of QIs. Through the consensus-building process, 35 QIs were proposed for palliative care in HF patients. Practical measurement in HF patients (n=131) from 3 teaching hospitals revealed that all of the proposed QIs could be obtained retrospectively from medical records, and the following QIs had low performance (<10%): “Intervention by multidisciplinary team”, “Opioid therapy for patients with refractory dyspnea”, and “Screening for psychological symptoms”.
Conclusions: The first set of QIs for palliative care of HF patients was developed and could clarify quantitative information and might improve the quality of care.
BACKGROUND: Advance care planning (ACP) is recommended as part of the management of patients with heart failure (HF).
AIMS: To develop and validate ACP support tools for patients with HF.
METHODS: An ACP support tool was developed based on a systematic literature review. A multi-center, prospective before and after study was conducted to evaluate the usefulness of the support tool. This study included 21 patients with HF, 11 patients formed the control group and 10 patients were part of the intervention group who received ACP from medical staff using the ACP support tools developed for this study. Participants of the study were surveyed about their experience of ACP using a 6-point Likert scale.
FINDINGS: All of the healthcare professionals (n=9) involved in the study found the ACP tool useful and about 90% of patients considered the support tool useful. The score for 'the patient did not feel anxious about the future after receiving ACP discussion' was significantly higher (3.5 [3.0, 4.0] vs 2.0 [1.0, 3.0]; P=0.04) in the intervention group that used the ACP tool.
CONCLUSION: ACP support tools are useful to manage patients with HF and could enable effective ACP without increasing patient anxiety.
Background:Little is known about palliative sedation in terminally ill heart failure (HF) patients.
Methods and Results:We retrospectively reviewed terminally ill HF patients who received palliative sedation from September 2013 to August 2018. Among 95 terminally ill HF patients, 25 were prescribed dexmedetomidine and 12 were prescribed midazolam at the end of life. Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale was significantly reduced (P<0.01), but blood pressure and heart rate were unaltered after treatment in both the dexmedetomidine and midazolam groups.
Conclusions:Prescription of dexmedetomidine and/or midazolam might be feasible in selected terminally ill HF patients.
Palliative care for end-stage heart failure should be provided by a multidisciplinary team. However, the influence of each occupational category on patients receiving palliative care for end-stage heart failure remains unclear. Thus, this study investigated the relationships between palliative care conferences and positive outcomes of palliative care for end-stage heart failure patients. We sent questionnaires to all cardiology training hospitals authorized by the Japanese Circulation Society (n = 1004); of these, responses from the directors at 554 institutions were analyzed. We divided the responding institutions into two groups according to their implementation of palliative care conferences for patients with end-stage heart failure. The institutions that had held such conferences (n = 223) had a larger number of hospital beds, beds in the cardiovascular department, and patients admitted to the cardiovascular department, compared with institutions that had not held these conferences (n = 321). The usage rates of opioids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and sedatives were significantly higher in institutions that held these conferences. Multivariate analysis revealed that nutritionists and medical social workers had greater involvement in the improvement of mental symptoms and ensuring that patients could stay where they wished, respectively. The presence of palliative care physicians, physical therapists, or pharmacists was associated with multiple positive outcomes. This study indicated that there are possible associations between palliative care conferences and positive outcomes when performing palliative care for patients with end-stage heart failure.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care for heart failure (HF) patients is recommended in Western guidelines, so this study aimed to clarify the current status of palliative care for HF patients in Japan.
Results: A survey was sent to all Japanese Circulation Society-authorized cardiology training hospitals (n=1,004) in August 2016. A total of 544 institutions (54%) returned the questionnaire. Of them, 527 (98%) answered that palliative care is necessary for patients with HF. A total of 227 (42%) institutions held a palliative care conference for patients with HF, and 79% of the institutions had <10 cases per year. Drug therapy as palliative care was administered at 403 (76%) institutions; morphine (87%) was most frequently used. Among sedatives, dexmedetomidine (33%) was administered more often than midazolam (29%) or propofol (20%). Regarding the timing of end-of-life care, most institutions (84%) reported having considered palliative care when a patient reached the terminal stage of HF. Most frequently, the reason for the decision at the terminal stage was "difficulty in discontinuing cardiotonics." A major impediment to the delivery of palliative care was "difficulty predicting an accurate prognosis."
CONCLUSIONS: This large-scale survey showed the characteristics of palliative care for HF in Japan. The present findings may aid in the development of effective end-of-life care systems.
BACKGROUND: The term palliative care has historically been associated with support for individuals with advanced incurable cancer, so cardiologists and cardiac nurses may be unfamiliar with its principles and practice. However, palliative care is now a part of end-stage heart failure management. We conducted the first nationwide survey to investigate the status of palliative care for heart failure in Japan.
METHODS AND RESULTS: A self-reported questionnaire was mailed to all Japanese Circulation Society - authorized cardiology training hospitals (n=1004) in August 2016. The response deadline was December 2016. The survey focused on the following topics: basic information about the facility and multidisciplinary team, patient symptoms for palliative care, positive outcomes after providing palliative care, drug therapy as palliative care for patients with heart failure, advance care planning with patients and their families, and impediments to providing palliative care to patients with heart failure. The results of the survey will be reported in detail elsewhere.
CONCLUSIONS: Current guidelines on palliative care do not specifically address what team members should be involved, what drugs should be used, or when palliative care should be started. This survey collected information to improve the quality of palliative care and provide more specialized palliative care within the limits of resources.