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.
Objective: Develop quality indicators that measure access to and the quality of primary PC delivered to seriously ill surgical patients
Summary of Background Data: PC for seriously ill surgical patients, including aligning treatments with patients’ goals and managing symptoms, is associated with improved patient-oriented outcomes and decreased healthcare utilization. However, efforts to integrate PC alongside restorative surgical care are limited by a lack of surgical quality indicators to evaluate primary PC delivery.
Methods: We developed a set of 27 preliminary indicators that measured palliative processes of care across the surgical episode, including goals of care, decision-making, symptom assessment, and issues related to palliative surgery. Then using the RAND-UCLA Appropriateness method, a 12-member expert advisory panel rated the validity (primary outcome) and feasibility of each indicator twice: (1) remotely and (2) after an in-person moderated discussion
Results: After 2 rounds of rating, 24 indicators were rated as valid, covering the preoperative evaluation (9 indicators), immediate preoperative readiness (2 indicators), intraoperative (1 indicator), postoperative (8 indicators), and end of life (4 indicators) phases of surgical care.
Conclusions: This set of quality indicators provides a comprehensive set of process measures that possess the potential to measure high quality PC for seriously ill surgical patients throughout the surgical episode.
Background: Very few studies have investigated the racial differences in do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders in children, and these studies are limited to oncological cases. We aim to characterize the racial difference in DNR orders among U.S. pediatric surgical patients.
Methods: We retrospectively evaluated the mortality of all children who underwent an inpatient surgery between 2012 and 2017 from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. We used log-binomial models to estimate the relative risk (RR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) of DNR use comparing white with African American (AA) children. To estimate the risk-adjusted difference in DNR orders, we controlled the analyses for age, prematurity status, emergent case status, American Society of Anesthesiologists class, year of operation, surgical specialty, and surgical complexity.
Results: Between 2012 and 2017, a total of 276,917 children underwent inpatient surgery, of whom 0.8% (n = 1601) died within 30 days of operation. Of the 1601 mortality cases, we retained 1212 children who were of either AA (26.0%, n = 350) or white (63.9%, n = 862) race. Most children were neonates, had an American Society of Anesthesiologists class =4 (70.0%, n = 811), and developed one or more postoperative complications (68.7%, n = 833). Overall, AA children were more likely to be neonates at the time of surgery (42.0% vs. 40.3%, p < 0.001), to be premature (66.3% vs. 49.0%, p < 0.001), and develop one or more postoperative complications (73.7% vs. 66.7%, p = 0.017). White children were three times more likely to have a DNR order than their AA peers (adjusted RR: 3.01, 95% CI: 1.09–8.56, p = 0.044).
Conclusion: Among pediatric surgical patients in the United States, children of white race were three times more likely to have a DNR order in place than their AA peers despite the latter being “sicker” and more likely to develop postoperative complications. The mechanisms underlying this racial difference deserve further elucidation to improve shared decision making and goal-concordant care.
Context: Palliative care consultation before left ventricular assist device (LVAD) surgery (PreVAD) has been recommended, but its impact on goal-concordant care is unknown.
Objectives: To describe the association between patients' unique unacceptable condition articulated during PreVAD with the actual care provided at the end of life.
Methods: Among 308 patients who had PreVAD between 2014 and 2019, 72 patients died before December 31, 2019. Based on the answers to the question, “Is there any condition you would find unacceptable?” patients were divided into ARTICULATE (those who could articulate their unacceptable condition clearly, n = 58) and non-ARTICULATE (those who could not, n = 14). Circumstances at death and end-of-life care were compared between groups.
Results: Mean age at death was 63.2 years (SD ±13.1), 56 patients (77.8%) were males, and median duration of LVAD was 167.5 days (interquartile range 682). ARTICULATE patients died less frequently in the intensive care unit than non-ARTICULATE patients (33 patients, 57.9% vs. 13 patients, 92.9%; P = 0.014) and had ethics consultation less frequently (four patients, 6.9% vs. five patients, 35.7%; P = 0.011). Frequency of LVAD withdrawal was similar in both groups. Among ARTICULATE cohort, the unacceptable condition articulated in PreVAD did not seem to influence decisions at the end of life.
Conclusion: Patients who articulated their unacceptable condition clearly before LVAD surgery had less frequent ethics consultations and received less intensive care at the end of life, but it did not seem to affect the decision of LVAD withdrawal. It may be more important to engage in discussions around their unacceptable conditions, rather than the specific condition articulated. The question of an unacceptable condition should be part of any routine palliative care consultation before LVAD surgery.
Patients with frailty experience substantial physical and emotional distress related to their condition and face increased morbidity and mortality compared with their nonfrail peers. Palliative care is an interdisciplinary medical specialty focused on improving quality of life for patients with serious illness, including those with frailty, throughout their disease course. Anesthesiology providers will frequently encounter frail patients in the perioperative period and in the intensive care unit (ICU) and can contribute to improving the quality of life for these patients through the provision of palliative care. We highlight the opportunities to incorporate primary palliative care, including basic symptom management and straightforward goals-of-care discussions, provided by the primary clinicians, and when necessary, timely consultation by a specialty palliative care team to assist with complex symptom management and goals-of-care discussions in the face of team and/or family conflict. In this review, we apply the principles of palliative care to patients with frailty and synthesize the evidence regarding methods to integrate palliative care into the perioperative and ICU settings.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Children with medical or surgical critical illness or injury require skillful attention to physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs, whereas their families need support and guidance in facing life-threatening or life-changing events and gut-wrenching decisions. This article reviews current evidence and best practices for integrating palliative care into the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), with a focus on surgical patients.
RECENT FINDINGS: Palliative care is best integrated in a tiered approach, with primary palliative care provided by the PICU and surgical providers for all patients and families, including basic symptom management, high-quality communication, and end-of-life care. Secondary and tertiary levels of care involve unit or team-based 'champions' with additional expertise, and subspecialty palliative care teams, respectively. PICU and surgical providers should be able to provide primary palliative care, to identify patients and families for whom a palliative care consult would be helpful, and should be comfortable introducing the concept of palliative care to families.
SUMMARY: This review provides a framework and tools to enable PICU and surgical providers to integrate palliative care best practices into patient and family care.
Background: Patients requiring mechanical ventilation (MV) have high morbidity and mortality. Providing palliative care has been suggested as a way to improve comprehensive management. The objective of this retrospective cross-sectional study was to identify predictors for palliative care utilization and the association with hospital length of stay (LOS) among surgical patients requiring prolonged MV (= 96 consecutive hours).
Methods: National Inpatient Sample (NIS) data 2009–2013 was used to identify adults (age = 18) who had a surgical procedure and required prolonged MV (= 96 consecutive hours), as well as patients who also had a palliative care encounter. Outcomes were palliative care utilization and association with hospital LOS.
Results: Utilization of palliative care among surgical patients with prolonged MV increased yearly, from 5.7% in 2009 to 11.0% in 2013 (p < 0.001). For prolonged MV surgical patients who died, palliative care increased from 15.8% in 2009 to 33.2% in 2013 (p < 0.001). Median hospital LOS for patients with and without palliative care was 16 and 18 days, respectively (p < 0.001). Patients discharged to either short or long term care facilities had a shorter LOS if palliative care was provided (20 vs. 24 days, p < 0.001). Factors associated with palliative care utilization included older age, malignancy, and teaching hospitals. Non-Caucasian race was associated with less palliative care utilization.
Conclusions: Among surgical patients receiving prolonged MV, palliative care utilization is increasing, although it remains low. Palliative care is associated with shorter hospital LOS for patients discharged to short or long term care facilities.
Hospitalized patients with do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders commonly require surgical procedures. When this occurs, the usual practice in our medical center is to suspend the DNR order during the perioperative period. Few studies provide the patient perspective regarding automatic DNR suspension. The research team used a mixed-method, nonexperimental qualitative study design to conduct audio-recorded interviews with 17 nonsurgical patients who had DNR orders. We studied the patients' understanding of DNR status and their expectations regarding the changing of this status if surgery were required. The patients in the study expected a discussion regarding any change in their DNR status before the day of surgery and thought they should have the option to maintain their DNR status.
As of mid-April 2020, there have been nearly 2 million confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and more than 100 000 people have died. This historic pandemic has upended daily life globally and forced rationing in some of the world’s most high-income countries. To stem escalation of COVID-19, the World Health Organization has called for the deferral of elective surgery to divert personnel and equipment to patients with COVID-19. Thus, in the near term, surgical care is largely restricted to patients with the most severe illnesses and patients who are symptomatic and hospitalized (with any condition). Surgeons will also provide surgical and critical care for patients with COVID-19, a life-threatening virus that gives some affected individuals severe dyspnea or the need for a ventilator and thus isolates them from loved ones within days or weeks of onset. The experience in China and Italy warns other countries that the upcoming months will bring immeasurable pain to patients, families, and clinicians.
BACKGROUND: Despite a broad consensus and recommendations, numerous international reports or studies have shown the difficulties of implementing palliative care within healthcare services. The objective of this study was to understand the palliative approach of registered nurses in hospital medical and surgical care units and their use of mobile palliative care teams.
METHODS: Qualitative study using individual in depth semi-structured interviews and focus group of registered nurses. Data were analyzed using a semiopragmatic phenomenological analysis. Expert nurses of mobile palliative care team carried out this study. 20 registered nurses from three different hospitals in France agreed to participate.
RESULTS: Nurses recognize their role as being witnesses to the patient's experience through their constant presence. This is in line with their professional values and gives them an "alert role" that can anticipate a patient-centered palliative approach. The physician's positioning on palliative care plays a key role in its implementation. The lack of recognition of the individual role of the nurse leads to a questioning of her/his professional values, causing inappropriate behavior and distress. According to nurses, "rethinking care within a team environment" allows for the anticipation of a patient-centered palliative approach. Mobile Palliative Care Team highlights the major role of physicians-nurses "balance" while providing personal and professional support.
CONCLUSIONS: The Physician's positioning and attitude toward palliative approach sets the tone for its early implementation and determines the behavior of different staff members within healthcare service. "Recognition at work", specifically "recognition of the individual role of nurse" is an essential concept for understanding what causes the delay in the implementation of a palliative approach. Interprofessional training (physicians and nurses) could optimize sharing expertise. Registered nurses consider MPCT as a "facilitating intermediary" within the healthcare service improving communication. Restoring a balance in sharing care and decision between physicians and other caregivers lead care teams to an anticipated and patient-centered palliative approach according to guidelines.
PURPOSE: Single-port laparoscopic techniques can be optimized with confined incisions. This approach has an intraoperative advantage of excellent visualization of the correct intestinal segment for exteriorization, along with direct visual control of the extraction to avoid twisting. However, only a few studies have verified the efficacy of the technique. Thus, this study assessed the results of single-port laparoscopic stoma creation for fecal diversion, specifically focusing on feasibility, safety, and efficacy.
METHODS: Patients who underwent single-incision enterostomy performed by a single surgeon were included. Data on demographics, indications for and chosen procedure, and operation results were retrospectively collected and analyzed.
RESULTS: Between April 2015 and January 2018, a total of 13 patients (8 males, 5 females) with a mean age of 57.7 years (range, 41-83 years) underwent single-port ileostomy creation. The most common reason for diversion was palliative ileostomy for colon obstruction or fistula from peritoneal malignancy (n = 12), followed by colonic fistula with necrotizing pancreatitis (n = 1). There were no cases of conversion to open or multiport laparoscopic surgery. The mean operative time was 54 minutes (range, 37-118 minutes), and the median length of hospital stay was 8 days (range, 2-211 days). A postoperative complication, aspiration pneumonia, was documented in 1 patient and treated conservatively. The mean duration of bowel movement was 0.7 days (range, 0-4 days). All stomas had good function, and there was no 30-day mortality.
CONCLUSION: Single-port laparoscopic ileostomy in patients with a palliative setting could be a safe and feasible option for fecal diversion.
OBJECTIVE: To describe how and when surgery residents provided primary palliative care and engaged specialty palliative care services.
DESIGN: Phase I consisted of a previously validated survey instrument supplemented with additional questions. We then conducted semistructured interviews with a subset of the survey respondents (Phase II). Using thematic analysis, we characterized surgery residents' perceptions of palliative care delivery among surgical patients.
SETTING: General surgery residency programs across the state of Michigan.
PARTICIPANTS: General surgery residents across the state of Michigan. All residents in participating programs were invited to complete the survey in Phase I. Phase II consisted of a subset of the survey respondents who underwent semistructured interviews. Interview respondents were sampled to reflect the overall surveyed group.
RESULTS: Among 119 survey respondents (response rate 70%), all had encountered a palliative care specialist but only 58.8% had been taught when to consult or to refer to palliative care. Survey respondents reported on a multitude of barriers within the clinician, patient and family, and systemic domains. Interviews expanded on survey findings and 4 influential factors of palliative care delivery emerged: (1) Resident Education and Training; (2) Resident Attitudes Toward Palliative Care; (3) Knowledge of Palliative Care; and (4) Training within a Surgical Culture.
CONCLUSIONS: This study reveals how surgery resident training and experiences impact palliative and end-of-life care for surgical patients at teaching institutions. Knowledge of how and when residents are providing primary palliative care and engaging with palliative care services will inform future knowledge and behavioral interventions for trainees who often provide care for patients nearing the end of life.
Study Design: Retrospective study.
Objective: The purpose of the study was to examine survival after surgery for a metastatic spinal tumor using prognostic factors in the new Katagiri score.
Summary of Background Data: surgery for spinal metastasis can improve quality of life and facilitate treatment of the primary cancer. However, choice of therapy requires identification of prognostic factors for survival, and these may change over time due to treatment advances. The new Katagiri score for the prognosis of skeletal metastasis includes classification of the primary tumor site and the effects of chemotherapy and hormonal therapy.
Methods: The subjects were 201 patients (127 males, 74 females) who underwent surgery for spinal metastases at 6 facilities in the Nagoya Spine Group. Age at surgery, gender, follow-up, metastatic spine level, primary cancer, new Katagiri score (including primary site, visceral metastasis, laboratory data, performance status (PS), and chemotherapy) and survival were obtained from a prospectively maintained database.
Results: Posterior decompression (n = 29) and posterior decompression and fixation with instrumentation (n = 182) were performed at a mean age of 65.9 (range, 16-85) years. Metastasis was present in the cervical (n = 19, 10%), thoracic (n = 155, 77%), and lumbar (n = 26, 13%) spine, and sacrum (n = 1, 1%). In multivariate analysis, moderate growth (HR 2.95, 95% CI, 1.27–7.89, P < 0.01) and rapid growth (HR 4.71, 95% CI, 2.78–12.31, P < 0.01) at the primary site; nodular metastasis (HR 1.53, 95% CI, 1.07–3.85, P < 0.01) and disseminated metastasis (HR 2.94, 95% CI, 1.33–5.42, P < 0.01); and critical laboratory data (HR 3.15, 95% CI, 2.06–8.36, P < 0.01) and poor PS (HR 2.83, 95% CI, 1.67–4.77, p < 0.01) were significantly associated with poor survival.
Conclusion: accurate prognostic factors are important in deciding the treatment strategy in patients with spinal metastasis, and our identification of these factors may be useful for these patients.
Level of Evidence: 3
CONTEXT: The Trauma Quality Improvement Program Best Practice Guidelines recommend palliative care (PC) concurrent with restorative treatment for patients with life-threatening injuries. Measuring PC delivery is challenging: administrative data are nonspecific, and manual review is time intensive.
OBJECTIVES: To identify PC delivery to patients with life-threatening trauma and compare the performance of natural language processing (NLP), a form of computer-assisted data abstraction, to administrative coding and gold standard manual review.
METHODS: Patients 18 years and older admitted with life-threatening trauma were identified from two Level I trauma centers (July 2016-June 2017). Four PC process measures were examined during the trauma admission: code status clarification, goals-of-care discussion, PC consult, and hospice assessment. The performance of NLP and administrative coding were compared with manual review. Multivariable regression was used to determine patient and admission factors associated with PC delivery.
RESULTS: There were 76,791 notes associated with 2093 admissions. NLP identified PC delivery in 33% of admissions compared with 8% using administrative coding. Using NLP, code status clarification was most commonly documented (27%), followed by goals-of-care discussion (18%), PC consult (4%), and hospice assessment (4%). Compared with manual review, NLP performed more than 50 times faster and had a sensitivity of 93%, a specificity of 96%, and an accuracy of 95%. Administrative coding had a sensitivity of 21%, a specificity of 92%, and an accuracy of 68%. Factors associated with PC delivery included older age, increased comorbidities, and longer intensive care unit stay.
CONCLUSION: NLP performs with similar accuracy with manual review but with improved efficiency. NLP has the potential to accurately identify PC delivery and benchmark performance of best practice guidelines.
L’auteur Jacques Brotchi retrace, dans un dialogue avec sa petite-nièce, l’évolution de la notion d’euthanasie et ses implications morales en Belgique et ailleurs. Avec clarté et délicatesse, il explique dans quelles circonstances chacun peut bénéficier du droit de choisir sa n de vie et partir dans l’apaisement et la dignité.
BACKGROUND: High-quality shared decision-making for patients undergoing elective surgical procedures includes eliciting patient goals and treatment preferences. This is particularly important, should complications occur and life-sustaining therapies be considered. Our objective was to determine the preoperative care preferences of older higher-risk patients undergoing elective procedures and to determine any factors associated with a preference for limitations to life-sustaining treatments.
METHODS: Cross-sectional survey conducted between May and December 2018. Patients =55 years of age presenting for a preprocedural evaluation in a high-risk anesthesia clinic were queried on their desire for life-sustaining treatments (cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, dialysis, and artificial nutrition) as well as tolerance for declines in health states (physical disability, cognitive disability, and daily severe pain).
RESULTS: One hundred patients completed the survey. The median patient age was 68. Most patients were Caucasian (87%) and had an American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) score of III (88%). The majority of patients (89%) desired cardiopulmonary resuscitation. However, most patients would not accept mechanical ventilation, dialysis, or artificial nutrition for an indefinite period of time. Similarly, most patients (67%–81%) indicated they would not desire treatments to sustain life in the event of permanent physical disability, cognitive disability, or daily severe pain.
CONCLUSIONS: Among older, higher-risk patients presenting for elective procedures, most patients chose limitations to life-sustaining treatments. This work highlights the need for an in-depth goals of care discussion and establishment of advance care preferences before a procedure or operative intervention.
INTRODUCTION: People 65 years and older represent the fastest growing segment of the surgical population. Older age is associated with doubling of risk when undergoing emergency general surgery (EGS) procedures and often coexists with medical complexity and considerations of end-of-life care, creating prognostic and decisional uncertainty. Combined with the time-sensitive nature of EGS, it is challenging to gauge perioperative risk and ensure that clinical decisions are aligned with the patient values. Current preoperative risk prediction models for older EGS patients have major limitations regarding derivation and validation, and do not address the specific risk profile of older patients. Accurate and externally validated models specific to older patients are needed to inform care and decision making.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will derive, internally and externally validate a multivariable model to predict 30-day mortality in EGS patients >65 years old. Our derivation sample will be individuals enrolled in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database between 2012 and 2016 having 1 of 7 core EGS procedures. Postulated predictor variables have been identified based on previous research, clinical and epidemiological knowledge. Our model will be derived using logistic regression penalised with elastic net regularisation and ensembled using bootstrap aggregation. The resulting model will be internally validated using k-fold cross-validation and bootstrap validation techniques and externally validated using population-based health administrative data. Discrimination and calibration will be reported at each step.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethics for NSQIP data use was obtained from the Ottawa Hospital Research Ethics Board; external validation will use routinely collected anonymised data legally exempt from research ethics review. The final risk score will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. We plan to further disseminate the model as an online calculator or application for clinical use. Future research will be required to test the clinical application of the final model.
Patients undergoing cardiothoracic surgery face a small but significant mortality risk. Despite this, end-of-life care specific to this population has received little attention. This article examines current literature on end-of-life care in cardiothoracic surgery and in critical care. Recommendations for management at the end of life are made based on the available evidence.
Aim: This study explored whether chemotherapy combined with palliative surgery and/or radiotherapy is a possible treatment for metastatic gastric cancer.
Materials & methods: Patients were divided into groups according to treatments. COX models were used to explore prognostic factors. Kaplan-Meier models and log-rank tests were used to analyze outcomes. Outcomes were analyzed before and after propensity score matching.
Results: Chemotherapy combined with gastrectomy or metastasectomy prolongs the survival time compared with chemotherapy alone (p < 0.05). Chemotherapy combined with gastrectomy plus metastasectomy and/or radiation therapy also prolongs the survival time (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: Chemotherapy combined with gastrectomy could be a more effective treatment for metastatic gastric cancer. Chemotherapy combined with gastrectomy plus metastasectomy and/or radiation therapy could also be a promising treatment.
Background: In medical oncology settings, early specialist palliative care interventions have demonstrated improvements in patient quality of life and survival compared with usual oncologic care. However, the effect of early specialist palliative care interventions in surgical oncology settings is not well studied.
Methods: The Surgery for Cancer with Option for Palliative Care Expert (SCOPE) Trial is a single-center, prospective, single-blind, randomized controlled trial of a specialist palliative care intervention for cancer patients undergoing non-palliative surgery. It will enroll 236 patients scheduled for major abdominal operations for malignancy, who will be randomized 1:1 at enrollment to receive usual care (control arm) or specialist palliative care consultation (intervention arm). Intervention arm patients will receive consultations from a palliative care specialist (physician or nurse practitioner) preoperatively and postoperatively. The primary outcome is physical and functional wellbeing at 90 days postoperatively. Secondary outcomes are quality of life at 90 days postoperatively, posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms at 180 days postoperatively, days alive at home without an emergency room visit in the first 90 postoperative days, and overall survival at 1 year postoperatively. Participants will be followed for 3 years after surgery for exploratory analyses of their ongoing quality of life, healthcare utilization, and mortality.
Discussion: SCOPE is an ongoing randomized controlled trial evaluating specialist palliative care interventions for cancer patients undergoing non-palliative oncologic surgery. Findings from the study will inform ways to identify and improve care of surgical patients who will likely benefit from specialist palliative care services.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03436290