Background: The aim of this study was to examine palliative care involvement in patients with operative mortality after cardiac surgery, to gain a better understanding of this high-risk population and factors influencing referral.
Methods: This is a retrospective review using data submitted to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons National Database.
Results: The total study population included 93 patients with operative mortality, only 30% of whom had palliative care involvement. The median time from first palliative care involvement to death was 6 days. Nearly 40% of patients had a status labeled as elective at the time of surgery.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that patient mortality risk for elective surgery is being underestimated, or the indications for palliative care consultation in high-risk patients is going unrecognized. Such knowledge may facilitate earlier palliative care involvement, with the goal of improved quality of life for cardiac patients.
The practice of surgical palliative care is not new. Dr Balfour M. M. Mount, a retired urologic surgeon is considered the father of North American Palliative Care and coined the term Palliative Care in 1975. Dr Geoffrey P. Dunn, a retired general surgeon and hospice and palliative medicine specialist along with other like minded surgical colleagues were instrumental in developing the field of surgical palliative care. Dr Olga Jonasson, championed the American Board of Surgery becoming one of the sponsoring boards of the Hospice and Palliative Medicine certifying exam. Dr Anne Mosenthal advocated for palliative care to be integrated as parallel clinical aims so espoused in the Trauma Quality and Improvement Program Palliative Care Best Practice Guidelines. Dr Mosenthal currently chairs the American College of Surgeons Committee on Surgical Palliative Care. This introductory article is a brief history about the origins of surgical palliative care and sheds light on the current landscape of surgeons integrating primary and specialty palliative care into surgical practice. The aim of this surgical palliative care symposium is to take everyday surgical problems and highlight the application and benefit of palliative care when treating surgical patients with serious illness. Integrating palliative care principles into standard clinical management is evidenced based patient-centered practice.
A 55-year-old man undergoes emergent exploratory laparotomy and splenectomy following a motorcycle collision. Following surgery, he is found to have a traumatic brain injury requiring decompressive craniectomy and intracranial pressure monitoring. The patient then continues to have complications throughout his hospital course. Using the American College of Surgeons Trauma Quality Improvement Program guidelines, the surgical team has early and ongoing primary palliative care discussions to foster communication and determine goals of care for the patient. As the patient deteriorates, the surgical team continues meeting with the patient’s surrogate decision makers to discuss the best case and worst case scenarios regarding the patient’s prognosis and expected quality of life.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate a machine learning model designed to predict mortality for Medicare beneficiaries aged >65 years treated for hip fracture in Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs).
DESIGN: Retrospective design/cohort analysis of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility-Patient Assessment Instrument data.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: A total of 17,140 persons admitted to Medicare-certified IRFs in 2015 following hospitalization for hip fracture.
MEASURES: Patient characteristics include sociodemographic (age, gender, race, and social support) and clinical factors (functional status at admission, chronic conditions) and IRF length of stay. Outcomes were 30-day and 1-year all-cause mortality. We trained and evaluated 2 classification models, logistic regression and a multilayer perceptron (MLP), to predict the probability of 30-day and 1-year mortality and evaluated the calibration, discrimination, and precision of the models.
RESULTS: For 30-day mortality, MLP performed well [acc = 0.74, area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) = 0.76, avg prec = 0.10, slope = 1.14] as did logistic regression (acc = 0.78, AUROC = 0.76, avg prec = 0.09, slope = 1.20). For 1-year mortality, the performances were similar for both MLP (acc = 0.68, AUROC = 0.75, avg prec = 0.32, slope = 0.96) and logistic regression (acc = 0.68, AUROC = 0.75, avg prec = 0.32, slope = 0.95).
CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: A scoring system based on logistic regression may be more feasible to run in current electronic medical records. But MLP models may reduce cognitive burden and increase ability to calibrate to local data, yielding clinical specificity in mortality prediction so that palliative care resources may be allocated more effectively.
Purpose of Review: Communication skills in the ICU are an essential part of the care of trauma patients. The goal of this review is to summarize key aspects of our understanding of communication with injured patients in the ICU.
Recent Findings: The need to communicate effectively and empathetically with patients and identify primary goals of care is an essential part of trauma care in the ICU. The optimal design to support complex communication in the ICU will be dependent on institutional experience and resources. The best/worst/most likely model provides a structural model for communication.
Summary: We have an imperative to improve the communication for all patients, not just those at the end of their life. A structured approach is important as is involving family at all stages of care. Communication skills can and should be taught to trainees.
Background: An analysis of the position statements of secular US medical and surgical professional societies on physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and euthanasia have not been published recently. Available statements were evaluated for position, content, and sentiment.
Methods: In order to create a comprehensive list of secular medical and surgical societies, the results of a systematic search using Google were cross-referenced with a list of societies that have a seat on the American Medical Association House of Delegates. Societies with position statements were identified. These statements were divided into 5 categories: opposed to PAS and/or euthanasia, studied neutrality, supportive, acknowledgement without statement, and no statement. Linguistic analysis was performed using RapidMinder in order to determine word frequency and sentiment respective to individual statements. To ensure accuracy, only statements with word counts > 100 were analyzed. A 2-tailed independent t test was used to test for variance among sentiment scores of opposing and studied neutrality statements.
Results: Of 150 societies, only 12 (8%) have position statements on PAS and euthanasia: 11 for PAS (5 opposing and 4 studied neutrality) and 9 for euthanasia (6 opposing and 2 studied neutrality). Although the most popular words used in opposing and studied neutrality statements are similar, notable exceptions exist (suicide, medicine, and treatment appear frequently in opposing statements, but not in studied neutrality statements, whereas psychologists, law, and individuals appear frequently in studied neutrality statements, but not in opposing statements). Sentiment scores for opposing and studied neutrality statements do not differ (mean, 0.094 vs. 0.104; P = 0.90).
Conclusions: Few US medical and surgical societies have position statements on PAS and euthanasia. Among them, opposing and studied neutrality statements share similar linguistic sentiment. Opposing and studied neutrality statements have clear differences, but share recommendations. Both opposing and studied neutrality statements cite potential risks of PAS legalization and suggest that good palliative care might diminish a patient’s desire for PAS.
End of life discussions frequently take place in surgical intensive care units, as a significant number of patients die while admitted to the hospital, and surgery is common during the last month of life. Multiple barriers exist to the initiation of these conversations, including: miscommunication between clinicians and surrogates, a paternalistic approach to surgical patients, and perhaps, conflicts of interest as an unwanted consequence of surgical quality reporting. Goal discordant care refers to the care that is provided to a patient that is incapacitated and that is not concordant to his/her wishes. This is a largely unrecognized medical error with devastating consequences, including inappropriate prolongation of life and non-beneficial therapy utilization. Importantly, hospice and palliative care needs to be recognized as quality care in order to deter the incentives that might persuade clinicians from offering these services.
Palliative care is a medical discipline that emphasizes quality of life and can be provided in parallel with recovery-directed treatments in colon and rectal surgery. Palliative care is receiving increasing attention and investigation for its potential to improve quality and outcomes for a wide spectrum of patients by benefiting symptom management, supporting complex health care decision making and facilitating care transitions. Primary palliative care refers to the application of palliative care principles by clinicians of all disciplines whereas specialty palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach and includes a clinician with advanced training and experience.
CONTEXT: Optimal surgical care for older adults with life-threatening conditions, with high risk of poor perioperative outcomes and morality in the months after surgery, should incorporate an understanding of the patient's treatment goals and preferences. However, little research has explored the patient perspective of decision making and advanced care planning during an emergency surgery episode.
OBJECTIVE: We sought to better understand older patients' lived experience making decisions to undergo emergency general surgery (EGS) and perceptions of perioperative advance care planning.
METHODS: Adults >65 who underwent one of seven common EGS procedures with a length of stay >5 days at 3 Boston-area hospitals were included. Semi-structured phone interviews were conducted 3 months post-discharge. Transcripts were reviewed and coded independently by surgeons and palliative care physicians to identify themes.
RESULTS: Thirty-one patients were interviewed. Patients viewed the decision for surgery as a choice of life over death and valued prolonging life. They felt there was "no choice" but to proceed with surgery, but reported that participation in decision making was limited due to severe symptoms, time constraints and confused thinking. Despite recently surviving a life-threatening illness, patients had not reconsidered their wishes for the future and preferred to avoid future advance care planning.
CONCLUSION: Older patients who survived a life-threatening illness and emergency general surgery report receiving goal-concordant care in the moment that relieved symptoms and prolonged life but had not considered future care. Interventions to facilitate postoperative advance care planning should be targeted to this vulnerable group of older adults.
INTRODUCTION: We hypothesized that trauma providers are reticent to consider palliative measures in acute trauma care.
METHODS: An electronic survey based on four patient scenarios with identical vital signs and serious blunt injuries, but differing ages and frailty scores was sent to WTA and EAST members.
RESULTS: 509 (24%) providers completed the survey. Providers supported early transition to comfort care in 85% old-frail, 53% old-fit, 77% young-frail, and 30% young-fit patients. Providers were more likely to transition frail vs. fit patients with (OR = 4.8 [3.8-6.3], p < 0.001) or without (OR = 16.7 [12.5-25.0], p < 0.001) an advanced directive (AD) and more likely to transition old vs. young patients with (OR = 2.0 [1.6-2.6], p < 0.001) or without (OR = 4.2 [2.8-5.0], p < 0.001) an AD.
CONCLUSIONS: In specific clinical situations, there was wide acceptance among trauma providers for the early institution of palliative measures. Provider decision-making was primarily based on patient frailty and age. ADs were helpful for fit or young patients. Provider demographics did not impact decision-making.
The spine is a frequent site of cancer metastasis leading to intractable pain, functional impairment, and poor quality of life. When analgesic regimens and nonpharmacological interventions fail, spine surgery may be indicated. For patients with advanced disease, the decision to operate can become a dilemma. A patient with colon cancer metastatic to his spine, who had undergone multiple procedures for back pain, was admitted to a palliative care unit, where pain persisted despite high-dose opioids and adjuvant analgesics. Owing to progressive disease, he was told of a prognosis of six months by his oncologist. He eventually underwent percutaneous pedicle screw fixation. Shortly after surgery, he settled on a regimen merely equivalent to 45 mg of morphine per day. The article explores the role of palliative spine surgery in managing intractable cancer-related back pain. The authors offer a guide when considering surgical procedures for patients with limited prognosis.
Background: Integration of palliative care services into the surgical treatment plan is important for holistic patient care. We sought to examine the association between patient race/ethnicity and county-level vulnerability relative to patterns of hospice utilization.
Patients and Methods: Medicare Standard Analytic Files were used to identify patients undergoing lung, esophageal, pancreatic, colon, or rectal cancer surgery between 2013 and 2017. Data were merged with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social vulnerability index (SVI). Logistic regression was utilized to identify factors associated with overall hospice utilization among deceased individuals.
Results: A total of 54,256 Medicare beneficiaries underwent lung (n = 16,645, 30.7%), esophageal (n = 1427, 2.6%), pancreatic (n = 6183, 11.4%), colon (n = 26,827, 49.4%), or rectal (n = 3174, 5.9%) cancer resection. Median patient age was 76 years (IQR 71–82 years), and 28,887 patients (53.2%) were male; the majority of individuals were White (91.1%, n = 49,443), while a smaller subset was Black or Latino (racial/ethnic minority: n = 4813, 8.9%). Overall, 35,416 (65.3%) patients utilized hospice services prior to death. Median SVI was 52.8 [interquartile range (IQR) 30.3–71.2]. White patients were more likely to utilize hospice care compared with minority patients (OR 1.24, 95% CI 1.17–1.31, p < 0.001). Unlike White patients, there was reduced odds of hospice utilization (OR 0.97, 95% CI 0.96–0.99) and early hospice initiation (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.91–0.97) as SVI increased among minority patients.
Conclusions: Patients residing in counties with high social vulnerability were less likely to be enrolled in hospice care at the time of death, as well as be less likely to initiate hospice care early. The effects of increasing social vulnerability on hospice utilization were more profound among minority patients.
Background: Many studies report on the patient-caregiver relationship during palliative care (PC); however, this relationship has yet to be examined following traumatic injury.
Methods : This prospective cohort study included trauma patients (=55 years) and their primary caregivers admitted at two level I trauma centers over two years (11/16-11/18), who received PC and who completed satisfaction surveys prior to discharge; surveys were analyzed by four domains: information giving, availability of care, physical care, and psychosocial care; and by PC assessments: consultations, prognostications, formal family meetings, and advanced goals of care discussions. The primary outcome was the percentage of patients and caregivers who were satisfied (defined as =80%) and was analyzed using McNemar’s test. Adjusted mixed models identified PC assessments that were associated with satisfaction =80% for patients and caregivers.
Results : Of the 441 patient- and 441 caregiver-pairs, caregivers were significantly less satisfied than patients during prognostications, (information giving; physical care), formal family meetings (information giving; physical care), and consultations (physical care), while caregivers were significantly more satisfied than patients during advanced goals of care discussions (availability of care; psychosocial care). After adjustment, significant predictors of caregiver satisfaction (=80%) included longer patient hospital LOS (>4 days), caring for a male patient (physical care; availability of care), higher caregiver age (=55 years: availability of care), and higher patient age (=65 years: psychosocial care). Conversely, all PC assessments decreased odds of satisfaction for caregivers in every domain except physical care. Significant predictors of higher patient satisfaction included formal family meetings (for every domain) and PC consultations (psychosocial care), and decreased odds included advanced goals of care discussions and prognostication assessments (information giving; psychosocial care).
Conclusions : PC increased satisfaction of patients, especially family meetings and consultations, while assessments were predictive of lower caregiver satisfaction, suggesting that caregivers may be experiencing some of the patient burden.
BACKGROUND: Malignant bowel obstruction (MBO) is a condition secondary to intra-abdominal metastatic spread of advanced-stage tumors. There is no consensus for the treatment approach of MBO. This study aims to present the results of medical treatment and palliative surgery in patients diagnosed with MBO.
METHODS: The patients who were treated for advanced-stage tumors between 2010 and 2017 and for whom consultation was requested from the surgical clinic for MBO symptoms were identified. A selective approach together with palliative care for the indication of surgery was instituted. The patients with surgical treatment and medical treatment were compared concerning survival, oral food intake and symptom relief.
RESULTS: Seventy-six patients (30 female, 46 male) aged 60.5±12.8 years (range: 27-88) were included in this study. Forty-eight of the patients (64.9%) underwent surgical treatment, while 28 (35.1%) had medical treatment. Although the patients with surgery had longer duration of stay in the hospital (median 16 days vs. 4 days) (p<0.001) and higher complication rates (27.1% vs. 3.5%) compared to medically treated patients; the restoring oral food intake was better (97.9% vs. 78.6%) (p=0.005) and the survival was longer (105 days vs. 43 days).
CONCLUSION: This study revealed that surgical treatment resulted in better outcomes for life quality parameters in highly selected patients with malignant bowel obstruction evaluated by multidisciplinary team, including palliative care.
Background: Palliative care is expanding as part of treatment, but remains underutilized in trauma settings. Palliative care consultations (PCC) have shown to reduce nonbeneficial, potentially inappropriate interventions (PII), as decision for their use should always be made in the context of both the patient's prognosis and the patient's goals of care.
Objective: To characterize trauma patients who received PCC and to analyze the effect of PCC and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders on PII in severely injured patients.
Setting/Subjects: Retrospective cohort study of 864 patients admitted to two level 1 trauma centers: 432 patients who received PCC (PCC group) were compared with 432 propensity score match-controlled (MC group) patients who did not receive PCC.
Measurements: PCC in a consultative palliative care model, PII (including tracheostomy and percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) rate and timing, DNR orders.
Results: PCC rate in trauma patients was 4.3%, with a 5.3-day average time to PCC. PII were done in 9.0% of PCC and 6.0% of MC patients (p = 0.09). In the PCC group, 74.1% of PII were done before PCC, and 25.9% after. PCC compared with MC patients had significantly higher mechanical ventilation (60.4% vs. 18.1%, p < 0.001) and assisted feeding requirements (14.1% vs. 6.7%, p < 0.001). We observed a statistically significant reduction in PII after PCC (p = 0.002). Significantly less PCC than MC patients had PII following DNR (26.3% vs. 100.0%, p = 0.035).
Conclusions: PCC reduced PII in severely injured trauma patients by factor of two. Since the majority of PII in PCC patients occurred before PCC, a more timely administration of PCC is recommended. To streamline goals of care, PCC should supplement or precede a DNR discussion.
Trauma is widespread, and its symptoms can adversely impact wellbeing at end of life, a time when hospice seeks to maximize quality of life. This article reviews research on trauma at end of life, provides an overview of trauma-informed principles, and explores possibilities for applying trauma-informed care through an illustrative case study of a patient at end of life. The case discussion applies findings from the literature using Feldman's Stepwise Psychosocial Palliative Care model as a roadmap. As shown in the case study, trauma-related symptoms may complicate care, making it an important subject of clinical attention for interdisciplinary hospice team members. As part of this team, social workers are particularly well suited to provide more targeted interventions where indicated, though all members of the team should take a trauma-informed approach. Lastly, this article reflects on the need for organizations to take a systems-level approach when implementing trauma-informed care and suggests implications for practice through a universal approach to trauma and the need for trauma-specific assessments and interventions at end-of-life, along with areas for future research.
Background: In 2017, the American College of Surgeons' Trauma Quality Improvement Program adopted a Palliative Care Best Practices Guidelines that calls for early palliative care for hospitalized injured patients.
Objective: To develop an educational intervention to address the palliative needs of injured patients.
Design: Palliative faculty presented a three-part monthly lecture series focused on core primary palliative skills, including the components of palliative care; conducting family conferences; communication skills for complex medical decision making; pain management; and, end-of-life planning. Additionally a palliative provider joined trauma team rounds every other week to highlight opportunities for enhanced palliative assessments, identify appropriate consults, and provide just-in-time teaching.
Setting: Urban, level-1 trauma center.
Measurements: Surgical residents completed a survey at the beginning and end of the academic year, during which the intervention took place. All survey questions were answered with a 5-point Likert scale. Rate of palliative care consultation was also tracked.
Results: There were statistically significant perceived improvements in goals-of-care discussions (initial discussion—4.30 vs. 3.52, p = 0.4; follow-up discussion—3.89 vs. 3.05, p = 0.021) and documentation (3.89 vs. 2.9, p = 0.032), incorporation of patient preferences into decision making (4.20 vs. 3.43, p = 0.04), discussion of palliative needs during rounds (4.30 vs. 2.81; p < 0.001) and care transitions (3.90 vs. 3.05, p = 0.008), respect for decisions to forgo life-sustaining treatments (4.40 vs. 3.52, p = 0.004), and identification of advance directives (4.11 vs. 3.05, p = 0.002) and surrogate decision maker (4.44 vs. 3.60, p = 0.015). The overall rate of palliative specialist consultation also increased (8.4% vs. 16.1%, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Embedding primary palliative education into usual didactic and rounding time for an inpatient trauma team is an effective way to help residents develop palliative skills and foster culture change. Educational partnerships such as this may serve as an example to other trauma programs.
BACKGROUND: Despite the clear benefits of palliative care, surgical patients are less likely to receive palliative care consultations when compared to their medical counterparts. In this context, we conducted semi-structured interviews with a diverse range of practicing surgeons to better understand surgeon attitudes and experiences with both palliative care approaches and specialty services.
METHODS: Forty-six surgeons from community, tertiary-care, and academic institutions across the state of Michigan agreed to participate in this study. Each participant's interview lasted between 30 and 60 minutes and was digitally recorded. Audiotapes were transcribed verbatim and de-identified for names and places. The data were analyzed through iterative steps informed by thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Six major themes emerged describing surgeon-reported barriers to palliative care approaches and use of palliative care services, which were observed at the surgeon-level, patient and family-level, and system-level. At the surgeon-level, the following three major themes emerged: surgeon knowledge and attitudes, prognostication challenges, and surgeon identity. At the patient and family-level, two major themes were identified: expectations and discordance. At the system-level, two major themes emerged: culture and resources.
CONCLUSIONS: Among our cohort of surgeons, several key factors influenced their use of palliative approaches and specialty palliative care services. A better understanding of surgeon-perceived barriers may lead to future work aimed at creating meaningful, surgeon-specific interventions that address the underuse of this important care for surgical patients and patients being considered for surgery.
Background: Traumatic events are sudden, unexpected, and often devastating. The delivery of difficult news to patients and families in the trauma setting has unique challenges that necessitate communication skills that may differ from those used in other clinical environments.
Objective: Design and implement a novel curriculum to teach, assess, and provide feedback to trauma residents on the communication skills necessary for delivering difficult news to patients and families in the trauma setting.
Methods: This communication curriculum was delivered in three separate phases: (1) didactics using a video education e-module, (2) simulated practice of trauma resuscitation with a high-fidelity mannequin followed by role play of delivering difficult news, (3) an observed skills assessment using standardized patients (SPs). Each phase focused on delivery of difficult news of death and of uncertain/poor prognosis after a resuscitation in the trauma bay. Learners were trauma residents that included postgraduate year (PGY) 1-2 general surgery residents and PGY 1-4 emergency medicine residents at a level 1 trauma center. Outcomes include resident comfort, knowledge, and confidence in delivering difficult news in the trauma setting.
Results: Thirty-nine trauma residents participated in the three-phase curriculum. There was an increase in the mean scores of resident-reported comfort, knowledge, and confidence in delivering difficult news for the seriously injured. SPs rated 78% of residents as competent to perform delivery of difficult news in the trauma bay independently.
Conclusions: A curriculum to teach and assess trauma residents in the skills necessary to deliver difficult news in the trauma setting is both feasible and effective.
Background: Health care practitioners have developed complex algorithms to numerically calculate surgical risk. We examined the association between the initiation of a new do-not-resuscitate (DNR) status during hospitalization and postoperative outcomes, including mortality. We hypothesized that new DNR status would be associated with similar complication rates, even though mortality rates may be higher.
Methods: A retrospective cohort study using the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) Geriatric Surgery Research File. Two cohorts were defined by the presence of a new DNR status during the hospitalization that was not present on hospital admission. Multivariable logistic regression was used to control for differences between the DNR and non-DNR cohorts. The primary outcome was 30-day mortality. Secondary outcomes included rates of postoperative complications, including returning to the operating room, reintubation, failure to wean from ventilation, surgical site infections, dehiscence, pneumonia, acute kidney injury, renal failure, stroke, cardiac arrest, acute myocardial infarction, transfusion requirements, sepsis, urinary tract infections, venous thromboembolisms, total number of complications for each patient, and hospital length of stay.
Results: In our geriatric population with a newly established DNR status, the mortality rate was 39.29%, significantly greater than the non-DNR population after multivariable regression. Secondary outcomes also occurred at an increased rate in the DNR cohort including surgical site infections (8.29% vs 4.04%), pneumonia (18% vs 2.26%), renal insufficiency (2.43% vs 0.35%), acute renal failure (5% vs 0.19%), stroke (3% vs 0.36%), acute myocardial infarction (6.29% vs 0.95%), and cardiac arrest (5.86% vs 0.51%).
Conclusions: The initiation of a new DNR status during hospitalization is associated with a significantly higher burden of both morbidity and mortality. This contrasts with prior studies that did not show an increased rate of adverse outcomes and suggests that a new DNR status in postoperative patients may reflect a consequence of adverse postoperative events. The informed consent process in older patients at risk for adverse outcomes after surgery should include discussions regarding goals of care and acceptable risk.