Background: General practitioners’ (GPs) play a central role in facilitating end-of-life discussions with older patients nearing the end-of-life. However, prognostic uncertainty of time to death is one important barrier to initiation of these discussions.
Objective: To explore GPs’ perceptions of the feasibility and acceptability of a risk prediction checklist to identify older patients in their last 12 months of life and describe perceived barriers and facilitators for implementing end-of-life planning.
Methods: Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 GPs practising in metropolitan locations in New South Wales and Queensland between May and June 2019. Data were analysed thematically.
Results: Eight themes emerged: accessibility and implementation of the checklist, uncertainty around checklist’s accuracy and usefulness, time of the checklist, checklist as a potential prompt for end-of-life conversations, end-of-life conversations not an easy topic, end-of-life conversation requires time and effort, uncertainty in identifying end-of-life patients and limited community literacy on end-of-life. Most participants welcomed a risk prediction checklist in routine practice if assured of its accuracy in identifying which patients were nearing end-of-life.
Conclusions: Most participating GPs saw the value in risk assessment and end-of-life planning. Many emphasized the need for appropriate support, tools and funding for prognostic screening and end-of-life planning for this to become routine in general practice. Well validated risk prediction tools are needed to increase clinician confidence in identifying risk of death to support end-of-life care planning.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate views, determinants and barriers to end-of-life discussions for doctors, nurses and members of the public (MoP) and their acceptability of risk prediction tools.
METHODS: Concurrent surveys of 360 doctors and nurses and 497 MoP.
RESULTS: Sixty per cent of clinicians reported high confidence in initiating end-of-life discussions, and 55.8% regularly engaged in them. Barriers to end-of-life communication reported by clinicians were uncertainty on the likely time to death (44.7%) and family requests to withhold information from patients (44.2%). By contrast, most (92.8%) MoP wanted information about life expectancy; 89.9% wanted involvement in treatment decisions if the likelihood of death was high; and 23.8% already had an advance care directive.
CONCLUSIONS: A dissonance exists between doctor/nurses perception of older peoples' preference for receiving prognostic information and the public desire for involvement in decision-making at the end of life. As public attitudes change, strategies for greater involvement of patients in shared end-of-life planning are warranted.
BACKGROUND: Many patients near the end of life are subject to rapid response system (RRS) calls. A study was conducted in a large Sydney teaching hospital to identify a cutoff point that defines nonbeneficial treatment for older hospital patients receiving an RRS call, describe interventions administered, and measure the cost of hospitalization.
METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort of 733 adult inpatients with data for the period three months before and after their last placed RRS call. Subgroup analysis of patients aged = 80 years was conducted. Log-rank, chi-square, and t-tests were used to compare survival, and logistic regression was used to examine predictors of death.
RESULTS: Overall, 65 (8.9%) patients had a preexisting not-for-resuscitation (NFR) or not-for-RRS order; none of those patients survived to three months. By contrast, patients without an NFR or not-for-RRS order had three-month survival probability of 71% (log-rank 2 145.63; p < 0.001). Compared with survivors, RRS recipients who died were more likely to be older, to be admitted to a medical ward, and to have a larger mean number of admissions before the RRS. The average cost of hospitalization for the very old transferred to the ICU was higher than for those not requiring treatment in the ICU (US$33,990 vs. US$14,774; p = 0.045).
CONCLUSION: Identifiable risk factors clearly associated with poor clinical outcomes and death can be used as a guide to administer less aggressive treatments, including reconsideration of ICU transfers, adherence to NFR orders, and transition to end-of-life management instead of calls to the RRS team.