Background: Providing equitable care to patients in need across the life course is a priority for many healthcare systems.
Aim: To estimate socioeconomic inequality trends in the proportions of decedents that died in the community and that received palliative care within 30 days of death (including home visits and specialist/generalist physician encounters).
Design: Cohort study based on health administrative data. Socioeconomic position was measured by area-level material deprivation. Inequality gaps were quantified annually and longitudinally using the slope index of inequality (absolute gap) and relative index of inequality (relative gap).
Setting/Participants: A total of 729,290 decedents aged >=18 years in Ontario, Canada from 2009 to 2016.
Results: In 2016, the modelled absolute gap (corresponding 95% confidence interval) between the most- and least-deprived neighbourhoods in community deaths was 4.0% (2.9–5.1%), which was 8.6% (6.2–10.9%) of the overall mean (46.6%). Relative to 2009, these inequalities declined modestly. Inequalities in 2016 were evident for palliative home visits (6.8% (5.8–7.8%) absolute gap, 26.3% (22.5–30.0%) relative gap) and for physician encounters (6.8% (5.7–7.9%) absolute gap, 13.2% (11.0–15.3%) relative gap), and widened from 2009 for physician encounters only on the absolute scale. Inequalities varied considerably across disease trajectories (organ failure, terminal illness, frailty, and sudden death).
Conclusion: Key measures of end-of-life care are not achieved equally across socioeconomic groups. These data can be used to inform policy strategies to improve delivery of palliative and end-of-life services.
BACKGROUND: Limited research has characterized team-based models of home palliative care and the outcomes of patients supported by these care teams.
CASE PRESENTATION: A retrospective case series describing care and outcomes of patients managed by the London Home Palliative Care Team between May 1, 2017 and April 1, 2019.
CASE MANAGEMENT: The London Home Palliative Care (LHPC) Team care model is based upon 3 pillars: 1) physician visit availability 2) active patient-centered care with strong physician in-home presence and 3) optimal administrative organization.
CASE OUTCOMES: In the 18 month study period, 354 patients received care from the London Home Palliative Care Team. Most significantly, 88.4% (n = 313) died in the community or at a designated palliative care unit after prearranged direct transfer; no comparable provincial data is available. 21.2% (n = 75) patients visited an emergency department and 24.6% (n = 87) were admitted to hospital at least once in their final 30 days of life. 280 (79.1%) died in the community. These values are better than comparable provincial estimates of 62.7%, 61.7%, and 24.0%, respectively.
CONCLUSION: The London Home Palliative Care (LHPC) Team model appears to favorably impact community death rate, ER visits and unplanned hospital admissions, as compared to accepted provincial data. Studies to determine if this model is reproducible could support palliative care teams achieving similar results.
OBJECTIVE: To measure the associations between newly initiated palliative care in the last six months of life, healthcare use, and location of death in adults dying from non-cancer illness, and to compare these associations with those in adults who die from cancer at a population level.
DESIGN: Population based matched cohort study.
SETTING: Ontario, Canada between 2010 and 2015.
PARTICIPANTS: 113 540 adults dying from cancer and non-cancer illness who were given newly initiated physician delivered palliative care in the last six months of life administered across all healthcare settings. Linked health administrative data were used to directly match patients on cause of death, hospital frailty risk score, presence of metastatic cancer, residential location (according to 1 of 14 local health integration networks that organise all healthcare services in Ontario), and a propensity score to receive palliative care that was derived by using age and sex.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Rates of emergency department visits, admissions to hospital, and admissions to the intensive care unit, and odds of death at home versus in hospital after first palliative care visit, adjusted for patient characteristics (such as age, sex, and comorbidities).
RESULTS: In patients dying from non-cancer illness related to chronic organ failure (such as heart failure, cirrhosis, and stroke), palliative care was associated with reduced rates of emergency department visits (crude rate 1.9 (standard deviation 6.2) v 2.9 (8.7) per person year; adjusted rate ratio 0.88, 95% confidence interval 0.85 to 0.91), admissions to hospital (crude rate 6.1 (standard deviation 10.2) v 8.7 (12.6) per person year; adjusted rate ratio 0.88, 95% confidence interval 0.86 to 0.91), and admissions to the intensive care unit (crude rate 1.4 (standard deviation 5.9) v 2.9 (8.7) per person year; adjusted rate ratio 0.59, 95% confidence interval 0.56 to 0.62) compared with those who did not receive palliative care. Additionally increased odds of dying at home or in a nursing home compared with dying in hospital were found in these patients (n=6936 (49.5%) v n=9526 (39.6%); adjusted odds ratio 1.67, 95% confidence interval 1.60 to 1.74). Overall, in patients dying from dementia, palliative care was associated with increased rates of emergency department visits (crude rate 1.2 (standard deviation 4.9) v 1.3 (5.5) per person year; adjusted rate ratio 1.06, 95% confidence interval 1.01 to 1.12) and admissions to hospital (crude rate 3.6 (standard deviation 8.2) v 2.8 (7.8) per person year; adjusted rate ratio 1.33, 95% confidence interval 1.27 to 1.39), and reduced odds of dying at home or in a nursing home (n=6667 (72.1%) v n=13 384 (83.5%); adjusted odds ratio 0.68, 95% confidence interval 0.64 to 0.73). However, these rates differed depending on whether patients dying with dementia lived in the community or in a nursing home. No association was found between healthcare use and palliative care for patients dying from dementia who lived in the community, and these patients had increased odds of dying at home.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings highlight the potential benefits of palliative care in some non-cancer illnesses. Increasing access to palliative care through sustained investment in physician training and current models of collaborative palliative care could improve end-of-life care, which might have important implications for health policy.
Background: Delirium is a distressing neurocognitive disorder that is common among terminally ill individuals, although few studies have described its occurrence in the acute care setting among this population.
Aim: To describe the prevalence of delirium in patients admitted to acute care hospitals in Ontario, Canada, in their last year of life and identify factors associated with delirium.
Design: Population-based retrospective cohort study using linked health administrative data. Delirium was identified through diagnosis codes on hospitalization records.
Setting/participants: Ontario decedents (1 January 2014 to 31 December 2016) admitted to an acute care hospital in their last year of life, excluding individuals age of <18 years or >105 years at admission, those not eligible for the provincial health insurance plan between their hospitalization and death dates, and non-Ontario residents.
Results: Delirium was recorded as a diagnosis in 8.2% of hospitalizations. The frequency of delirium-related hospitalizations increased as death approached. Delirium prevalence was higher in patients with dementia (prevalence ratio: 1.43; 95% confidence interval: 1.36–1.50), frailty (prevalence ratio: 1.67; 95% confidence interval: 1.56–1.80), or organ failure–related cause of death (prevalence ratio: 1.23; 95% confidence interval: 1.16–1.31) and an opioid prescription (prevalence ratio: 1.17; 95% confidence interval: 1.12–1.21). Prevalence also varied by age, sex, chronic conditions, antipsychotic use, receipt of long-term care or home care, and hospitalization characteristics.
Conclusion: This study described the occurrence and timing of delirium in acute care hospitals in the last year of life and identified factors associated with delirium. These findings can be used to support delirium prevention and early detection in the hospital setting.
Background: Many people with terminal illness prefer to die in home-like settings—including care homes, hospices, or palliative care units—rather than an acute care hospital. Home-based palliative care services can increase the likelihood of death in a community setting, but the provision of these services may increase costs relative to usual care.
Objective: The aim of this study was to estimate the incremental cost per community death for persons enrolled in end-of-life home care in Ontario, Canada, who died between 2011 and 2015.
Methods: Using a population-based cohort of 50,068 older adults, we determined the total cost of care in the last 90 days of life, as well as the incremental cost to achieve an additional community death for persons enrolled in end-of-life home care, in comparison with propensity score–matched individuals under usual care (ie, did not receive home care services in the last 90 days of life).
Results: Recipients of end-of-life home care were nearly 3 times more likely to experience a community death than individuals not receiving home care services, and the incremental cost to achieve an additional community death through the provision of end-of-life home care was CAN$995 (95% confidence interval: -$547 to $2392).
Conclusion: Results suggest that a modest investment in end-of-life home care has the potential to improve the dying experience of community-dwelling older adults by enabling fewer deaths in acute care hospitals.
Background: Pain is a prevalent symptom at the end of life and negatively impacts quality of life. Despite this, little population level data exist that describe pain frequency and associated factors at the end of life. The purpose of this study was to explore the prevalence of clinically significant pain at the end of life and identify predictors of increased pain.
Methods: Retrospective population-level cohort study of all decedents in Ontario, Canada, from April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2015 who received a home care assessment in the last 30 days of life (n = 20,349). Severe daily pain in the last 30 days of life using linked Ontario health administrative databases. Severe pain is defined using a validated pain scale combining pain frequency and intensity: daily pain of severe intensity.
Results: Severe daily pain was reported in 17.2% of 20,349 decedents. Increased risk of severe daily pain was observed in decedents who were female, younger and functionally impaired. Those who were cognitively impaired had a lower risk of reporting pain. Disease trajectory impacted pain; those who died of a terminal illness (i.e. cancer) were more likely to experience pain than those with frailty (odds ratio 1.66).
Conclusion: Pain is a common fear of those contemplating end of life, but severe pain is reported in less than 1 in 5 of our population in the last month of life. Certain subpopulations may be more likely to report severe pain at the end of life and may benefit from earlier palliative care referral and intervention.
Background: Palliative care is associated with improved symptom control and quality of life in people with heart failure. There is conflicting evidence as to whether it is associated with a greater likelihood of death at home in this population. The objective of this study was to describe the delivery of newly initiated palliative care services in adults who die with heart failure and measure the association between receipt of palliative care and death at home compared with those who did not receive palliative care.
Methods and Results: We performed a population-based cohort study using linked health administrative data in Ontario, Canada of 74 986 community-dwelling adults with heart failure who died between 2010 and 2015. Seventy-five percent of community-dwelling adults with heart failure died in a hospital. Patients who received any palliative care were twice as likely to die at home compared with those who did not receive it (adjusted odds ratio 2.12 [95% CI, 2.03–2.20]; P<0.01). Delivery of home-based palliative care had a higher association with death at home (adjusted odds ratio 11.88 [95% CI, 9.34–15.11]; P<0.01), as did delivery during transitions of care between inpatient and outpatient care settings (adjusted odds ratio 8.12 [95% CI, 6.41–10.27]; P<0.01). Palliative care was most commonly initiated late in the course of a person's disease (=30 days before death, 45.2% of subjects) and led by nonspecialist palliative care physicians 61% of the time.
Conclusions: Most adults with heart failure die in a hospital. Providing palliative care near the end-of-life was associated with an increased likelihood of dying at home. These findings suggest that scaling existing palliative care programs to increase access may improve end-of-ife care in people dying with chronic noncancer illness.
Background: Research shows that access to palliative care can help patients avoid dying in hospital. However, access to palliative care services during the terminal hospitalization, specifically, has not been well studied.
Objective: To determine whether access to palliative care varied by disease trajectory among terminal hospitalizations.
Design, Setting, Subjects: We conducted a population-based retrospective cohort study of decedents who died in hospital in Ontario, Canada between 2012 and 2015 by using linked administrative databases.
Measurements: Using hospital and physician billing codes, we classified access to palliative care in three mutually exclusive groups of patients with terminal hospitalization: (1) main diagnosis for admission was palliative care; (2) main diagnosis was not palliative care, but the patient received palliative care specialist consultation; and (3) the patient did not receive any specialist palliative care. We conducted a logistic regression on odds of never receiving palliative care.
Results: We identified 140,475 decedents who died in an inpatient hospital unit, which represents 42% of deaths. Among inpatient hospital deaths, 23% (n = 32,168) had palliative care listed as the main diagnosis for admission, 41% (n = 58,210) received specialist palliative care consultation, and 36% (n = 50,097) never had access to specialist palliative care. In our regression, dying of organ failure or frailty compared with cancer increased the odds of never receiving palliative care by 4.07 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.95–4.20) and 4.51 (95% CI: 4.35–4.68) times, respectively.
onclusions: A third of hospital deaths had no palliative care involvement. Access to specialist palliative care is particularly lower for noncancer decedents. Inpatient units play an important role in providing end-of-life care.
Background: Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in Canada came into effect in 2016 with the passing of Bill C-14. As patient interest and requests for MAID continue to evolve in Canada, it is important to understand the attitudes of future providers and the factors that may influence their participation. Attitudes towards physician hastened death (PHD) in general and the specific provision of MAID (e.g., causing death by lethal prescription or injection) are unknown among Canadian residents. This study examined residents’ attitudes towards PHD and MAID, and identified factors (e.g., demographics, clinical exposure to death and dying) that may influence their decision to participate in PHD and provide MAID.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was adapted from prior established surveys on MAID to reflect the Canadian setting. All Canadian family medicine programs were invited to participate. The survey was distributed between December 2016 and April 2017. Analysis of the results included descriptive statistics to characterize the survey participants and multivariable logistic regressions to identify factors that may influence residents’ attitudes towards PHD and MAID.
Results: Overall, 247 residents from 6 family medicine training programs in Canada participated (response rate of 27%). While residents were most willing to participate in treatment withdrawal (52%), active participation in PHD (41%) and MAID by prescription of a lethal drug (31%) and lethal injection (24%) were less acceptable. Logistic regressions identified religion as a consistent and significant factor impacting residents’ willingness to participate in PHD and MAID. Residents who were not strictly practicing a religion were more likely to be willing to participate in PHD (OR = 17.38, p < 0.001) and MAID (lethal drug OR = 10.55, p < 0.01, lethal injection OR = 8.54, p < 0.05). Increased clinical exposure to death and dying crudely correlated with increased willingness to participate in PHD and MAID, but when examined in multivariable models, only a few activities (e.g., declaring death, completing a death certificate) had a statistically significant association. Other significant factors included the residents’ sex and location of training.
Conclusions: Residents are hesitant to provide MAID themselves, with religious faith being a major factor impacting their decision.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care aims to improve quality of life by relieving physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering. Health system planning can be informed by evaluating cost and effectiveness of health care delivery, including palliative care.
AIM: The objectives of this article were to describe and critically appraise economic evaluations of palliative care models and to identify cost-effective models in improving patient-centered outcomes.
DESIGN: We conducted a systematic review and registered our protocol in PROSPERO (CRD42016053973).
DATA SOURCES: A systematic search of nine medical and economic databases was conducted and extended with reference scanning and gray literature. Methodological quality was assessed using the Drummond checklist.
RESULTS: We identified 12,632 articles and 5 were included. We included two modeling studies from the United States and England, and three economic evaluations from England, Australia, and Italy. Two studies compared home-based palliative care models to usual care, and one compared home-based palliative care to no care. Effectiveness outcomes included hospital readmission prevented, days at home, and palliative care symptom severity. All studies concluded that palliative care was cost-effective compared to usual care. The methodological quality was good overall, but three out of five studies were based on small sample sizes.
CONCLUSION: Applicability and generalizability of evidence is uncertain due to small sample sizes, short duration, and limited modeling of costs and effects. Further economic evaluations with larger sample sizes are needed, inclusive of the diversity and complexity of palliative care populations and using patient-centered outcomes.
La recherche en santé autochtone au Canada a été négligée dans le passé et qualifiée de problématique, notamment en raison du manque de collaboration avec les peuples autochtones. L'Énoncé de politique des trois Conseils sur l'éthique de la recherche avec des êtres humains décrit au chapitre 9 la conduite éthique de la recherche axée sur les Premières nations, les Inuits et les Métis. Les principes PCAP® des Premières nations (propriété, contrôle, accès et possession) soulignent l'importance majeure de l'engagement et de la gouvernance autochtones. En vue d'assurer que les buts et les activités de la recherche développée soient réalisés en partenariat complet et significatif avec les peuples et les communautés autochtones, il est possible de faire appel à des méthodes de recherche participative communautaire (RPC) intégrant leur plein engagement. Les recherches utilisant des ensembles de données secondaires, telles que les données administratives sur la santé recueillies en routine, ne devraient plus être exclues de cette approche. Notre objectif était de décrire comment notre équipe de chercheurs universitaires, alliée à un organisme national de santé autochtone, a adapté les méthodes de RPC dans le cadre d'un projet de recherche utilisant des données recueillies antérieurement pour examiner les lacunes dans la prestation de soins de fin de vie aux peuples autochtones en Ontario. Nous décrivons le processus d'élaboration de ce partenariat de recherche et expliquons comment l'intégration des principes de base et des processus de formation du savoir autochtones ont guidé cette collaboration. Notre partenariat de recherche, qui implique l'adaptation de méthodes de RPC, illustre un processus d'engagement qui pourrait guider d'autres chercheurs désirant mener des recherches en santé autochtone à l'aide de données déjà recueillies. Nous faisons aussi état d'une entente de recherche transparente, négociée équitablement entre un organisme national de santé autochtone et des chercheurs, qui pourrait servir de cadre pour des collaborations de recherche similaires. Il est essentiel de s'assurer que les perspectives autochtones soient au cœur des processus de recherche et qu'elles soient reflétées dans ceux-ci lorsque des données administratives sur la santé sont utilisées.
OBJECTIVE: To describe health care service utilization and cost for decedents with and without amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the last year of life.
METHODS: Using linked health administrative data, we conducted a retrospective, population-based cohort study of Ontario, Canada, decedents from 2013 to 2015. We examined demographic data, rate of utilization, and cost of health care services in the last year of life.
RESULTS: We identified 283,096 decedents in Ontario, of whom 1,212 (0.42%) had ALS. Decedents with ALS spent 3 times as many days in an intensive care unit (ICU) (mean 6.3 vs 2.1, p < 0.001), and twice as many days using complex continuing care (mean 12.7 vs 6.0, p < 0.001) and home care (mean 99.1 vs 41.3, p < 0.001). A greater percentage of decedents with ALS received palliative home care (44% vs 20%, p < 0.001) and palliative physician home visits (40% vs 18%, p < 0.001) than decedents without ALS. Among decedents with ALS, a palliative physician home visit in the last year of life was associated with reduced adjusted odds of dying in hospital (odds ratio 0.65, 95% confidence interval 0.48-0.89) and fewer days spent in the ICU. Mean cost of care in the last year of life was greater for those with ALS ($68,311.98 vs $55,773.48, p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: In this large population-based cohort of decedents, individuals with ALS spent more days in the ICU, received more community-based services, and incurred higher costs of care in the last year of life. A palliative care physician home visit was associated with improved end of life outcomes; however, the majority of patients with ALS did not access such services.
Background: Life expectancy in patients with end-stage kidney disease treated with hemodialysis (HD) is limited, and as such, the presence of an advanced care directive (ACD) may improve the quality of death as experienced for patients and families. Strategies to discuss and implement ACDs are limited with little being known about the status of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders in the Canadian HD population.
Objectives: Using data from the Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study (DOPPS), we set out to (1) examine the variability in DNR orders across Canada and its largest province, Ontario and (2) identify clinical and functional status measures associated with a DNR order.
Design: We conducted a retrospective cohort study using data from the DOPPS Canada Phase 4 to 6 from 2009 to 2017.
Setting: DOPPS facilities in Canada.
Patients: All adults (>18 years) who initiated chronic HD with a documented ACD were included.
Measurements: ACD and DNR orders.
Methods: Descriptive statistics were compared for baseline characteristics (demographics, comorbidities, medications, facility characteristics, and patient functional status) and DNR status. The crude proportion of patients per facility with a DNR order was calculated across Canada and Ontario. Functional status was determined by activities of daily living and components of the Kidney Disease Quality of Life (KDQOL)-validated questionnaire. We used generalized estimating equations (GEEs) to create sequential multivariable models (demographics, comorbidities, and functional status) of variables associated with DNR status.
Results: A total of 1556 (96% of total) patients treated with HD had a documented ACD and were included. A total of 10% of patients had a DNR order. The crude variation of DNR status differed considerably across facilities within Canada, between Ontario and non-Ontario, and within Ontario (interprovince variation = 6.3%-17.1%, Ontario vs non-Ontario = 8.2% vs 11.7%, intraprovincial variation [Ontario] = 1%-26%). Patients with a DNR order were more commonly older, white, with cardiac comorbidities, with less or shorter predialysis care compared with those without a DNR order. Patients with a DNR order reported lower energy, more difficulty with transfers, meal preparation, household tasks, and financial management. In a multivariate model, age, cardiac disease, stroke, dialysis duration, and intradialytic weight gain were associated with DNR status.
Limitations: Relatively small number of events or measures in certain categories.
Conclusions: A large inter- and intraprovincial (Ontario) variation was observed regarding DNR orders across Canada highlighting areas for potential quality improvement. While functional status did not appear to have a bearing on the presence of a DNR order, the presence of various comorbidities was associated with the presence of a DNR order.
BACKGROUND: While most patients desire to die at home or in a community-based hospice, the transition from hospital to community settings often lacks streamlined coordination of care to ensure that adequate support is provided in the preferred care setting. The impact of hospital-based palliative care consultations on post-discharge care and outcomes has not been extensively studied.
AIM: The aim of this study was to appraise available research on the impact of inpatient palliative care consultations on transitions from hospital to community settings.
DESIGN: We conducted a narrative systematic review and used the Effective Public Health Practice Project tool to appraise the quality of selected studies. Studies were included if they assessed the transition from hospital to community and examined outcomes after an inpatient palliative care consultation. A protocol for this study was registered and published in PROSPERO, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (ID: CRD42018094924).
DATA SOURCES: We searched for quantitative studies indexed in PubMED, CINAHL and Cochrane and published between 1 January 1 2000 and 11 March 2018.
RESULTS: Our search retrieved 2749 articles. From these, 123 articles were full-text screened and 15 studies met our inclusion criteria. Studies reported that inpatient palliative care consultations are associated with high rates of discharge to community settings, greater provision of services post-discharge, improved coordination and lower rates of rehospitalization.
CONCLUSION: Existing evidence suggest that inpatient palliative care consultations have a positive impact on patient outcomes and transitions to the community, demonstrating the potential to improve patient quality of life and relieve overburdened acute care systems.
Purpose: Among individuals with COPD and/or lung cancer, to describe end-of-life health service utilization, costs, and place of death; to identify predictors of home palliative care use, and to assess benefits associated with palliative care use.
Patients and methods: We conducted a retrospective population-based study using provincial linked health administrative data (Ontario, Canada) between 2010 and 2015. We examined health care use in the last 90 days of life in adults 35 years and older with physician-diagnosed COPD and/or lung cancer identified using a validated algorithm and the Ontario Cancer Registry, respectively. Four mutually exclusive groups were considered: (i) COPD only, (ii) lung cancer only, (iii) COPD and lung cancer, and (iv) neither COPD nor lung cancer. Multivariable generalized linear models were employed.
Results: Of 445,488 eligible deaths, 34% had COPD only, 4% had lung cancer only, 5% had both and 57% had neither. Individuals with COPD only received less palliative care (20% vs 57%) than those with lung cancer only. After adjustment, people with lung cancer only were far more likely to receive palliative care (OR=4.22, 4.08-4.37) compared to those with neither diagnosis, while individuals with COPD only were less likely to receive palliative care (OR=0.82, 0.81-0.84). Home palliative care use was associated with reduced death and fewer days in acute care, and less cost, regardless of the diagnosis.
Conclusion: Although individuals with lung cancer were much more likely to receive palliative care than those with COPD, both populations were underserviced. Results suggest greater involvement of palliative care may improve the dying experience of these populations and reduce costs.
Background: Discharging patients from inpatient palliative care units to the community is aligned with patients' desires to be cared for and die at home. However, there is little research examining patient outcomes after discharge.
Objective: To describe the outcomes of patients discharged from an inpatient palliative care unit.
Design: A single-institution retrospective cohort study using medical record data linked to regional acute care hospital and home care data.
Setting/Participants: Patients (n = 75) discharged to the community over a one-year period from a 31-bed inpatient palliative care unit in an academic continuing care facility.
Measurements: Survival, postdischarge hospitalizations and emergency department visits, and place of death.
Results: Patients discharged to the community had poor prognosis. Over one-third had a discharge Palliative Performance Score <50. The median survival after discharge was 96 days, and 36% of decedent patients died in an acute care hospital. Thirteen percent of patients were hospitalized, and 23% visited an emergency department within 30 days of discharge, often for reasons that could have been managed in the community. Certain groups of patients were at greater risk of acute care use and in-hospital deaths, including younger patients, patients with nonmalignant diseases, and patients discharged home or retirement home, compared to long-term care settings.
Conclusions: Patients discharged from an inpatient palliative care setting are at risk of postdischarge hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and in-hospital deaths, despite having community supports in place. Variations in outcomes can point to groups of patients who may require greater intensity of supports postdischarge.
CONTEXT: Although the literature on transitions from hospital to the community is extensive, little is known about this experience within the context of palliative care (PC).
OBJECTIVE: We conducted a systematic review to investigate the impact of receiving palliative care in hospital on the transition from hospital to the community.
METHODS: We systematically searched MEDLINE, Embase, ProQuest and CINAHL from 1995 until April 10, 2018, and extracted relevant references. Eligible articles were published in English, included adult patients receiving PC as inpatients and explored transitions from hospital to the community.
RESULTS: 1514 studies were identified and 8 met inclusion criteria. Studies were published recently (>2012; n=7, 88%). Specialist PC interventions were delivered by multi-disciplinary care teams as part of inpatient PC triggers, discharge planning programs, and transitional care programs. Common outcomes reported with significant findings consisted of length of stay (n=5), discharge support (n=5), and hospital readmissions (n=6) for those who received inpatient PC. Most studies were at high risk of bias.
CONCLUSION: Heterogeneity of study designs, outcomes, findings, and poor methodological quality render it challenging to draw conclusions regarding PC's impact on the transition from hospital to home. Further research should use standardized outcomes with randomized controlled trial and/or propensity matched cohort designs.
OBJECTIVES: To describe the rate of do-not-resuscitate (DNR) and do-not-hospitalize (DNH) orders among residents newly admitted into long-term care homes. We also assessed the association between DNR and DNH orders with hospital admissions, deaths in hospital, and survival.
DESIGN: A retrospective cohort study.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Admissions in all 640 publicly funded long-term care homes in Ontario, Canada, between January 1, 2010 and March 1, 2012 (n = 49,390).
MEASURES: We examined if a DNR and/or DNH was recorded on resident's admission assessment. All residents were followed until death, discharge, or end of study to ascertain rates of several outcomes, including death and hospitalization, controlling for resident characteristics.
RESULTS: Upon admission, 60.7% of residents were recorded to have a DNR and 14.8% a DNH order. Those who were older, female, widowed, lived in rural facilities, lived in higher income neighborhoods prior to entry, had higher health instability or cognitive impairment, and spoke English or French were more likely to receive a DNR or DNH. Survival time was only slightly shorter for those with a DNR and DNH with a mean of 145 and 133 days, respectively, vs 160 and 153 days for those without a DNR and DNH. After controlling for age, sex, rurality, neighborhood income, marital status, health instability, cognitive performance score, and multimorbidity, DNR and DNH were associated with an odds ratio of 0.57 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53-0.62] and 0.41 (95% CI 0.37-0.46) for dying in hospital, respectively. Those with a DNR and DNH, after adjustment, had an incidence rate ratio of 0.87 (95% CI 0.83-0.90) and 0.70 (95% CI 0.67-0.73), respectively, days spent in hospital.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: This study outlines identifiable factors influencing whether residents have a DNR and/or DNH order upon admission. Both orders led to lower rates, but not absolute avoidance, of hospitalizations near and at death.
BACKGROUND: Red blood cell transfusion is one therapeutic option for the treatment of anemia. Current transfusion practices and factors influencing the decision to prescribe this therapy are not well understood.
OBJECTIVE: To explore current transfusion practices, attitudes, and factors that influence the decision to transfuse among palliative care physicians.
DESIGN: Self-administered questionnaire addressing clinical experiences and decision making pertaining to blood transfusion.
SETTING/SUBJECTS: Specialist palliative care physicians at two Canadian academic centers.
MEASUREMENTS: Descriptive, presented as the number/proportion of respondents indicating a specific answer.
RESULTS: Of 62 physicians surveyed, 29 (47%) responded to the study questionnaire. For patients with solid tumors and hematologic malignancies, respectively, 79% and 82% of respondents reported prescribing blood transfusion; 59% and 46% reported that they would seldom recommend its discontinuation. Factors influential in the decision to transfuse included symptoms of anemia (97%), bleeding (62%), low hemoglobin (52%, of whom 87% indicated a hemoglobin threshold <70 g/L), and pressure from patients/families (48%). Physicians routinely reassessed patients for symptomatic improvement following transfusion, but 72% did not use an objective symptom scale. Twenty-six (90%) respondents believed that transfusion provided symptomatic benefit; the majority had observed adverse reactions to transfusion. Most perceived a lack of evidence to guide transfusion therapy in palliative care, and 79% indicated willingness to enroll their patients in a trial aiming to address this question.
CONCLUSIONS: Most palliative care specialists consider red blood cell transfusion to have a role in symptom management, but many clinical and nonclinical factors influence their decisions to provide or discontinue transfusions. Prospective clinical trials will likely be needed to inform transfusion practices in this population.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Patients with end-stage liver disease (ESLD) have progressively complex medical needs. However, little is known about their end of life health care utilization or associated costs. We performed a population-based study to evaluate the end of life direct utilization and costs for patients with ESLD among health care sectors in the province of Ontario.
METHODS: We used linked Ontario health administrative databases to conduct a population-based retrospective cohort study of all decedents from April 1, 2010 through March 31, 2013. Patients with ESLD were compared to patients without ESLD with regard to total health care utilization and costs in the last year and last 90 days of life.
RESULTS: The median age at death was significantly lower for ESLD decedents (65 years; inter-quartile range, 56-75 years) than for individuals without ESLD (80 years; inter-quartile range, 68-88 years). The median cost in the last year of life was significantly greater for patients with ESLD ($51,235 vs $44,456 without ESLD) (P<.001). Median ESLD end of life care costs also significantly exceeded those associated with 4 of the 5 most resource-intensive chronic conditions ($69,040 for ESLD vs $59,088 for non-ESLD) (P<.001). Cost differences were most pronounced in the final 90 days of life. During this period, patients with ESLD spent 4.7 more days in the hospital (95% CI, 4.3-5.1) than patients without ESLD (P<.0001), had significantly higher odds of dying in an institutional setting (odds ratio, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.7-1.9) (P<.0001), and incurred an additional $4201 in costs (95% CI, $3384-$5019; P<.0001).
CONCLUSION: In a population-based study in Canada, we found that patients with ESLD incur significantly higher end of life care costs than decedents without ESLD, predominantly due to increased time in hospital during the final 90 days of life.