Delirium occurs frequently at end of life. Palliative care clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are involved in community palliative care provision. Many patients prefer being cared for at home, yet managing delirium in this setting presents unique challenges, potentially resulting in emergency hospital or hospice admission. We examined the experiences and practice of palliative care CNSs managing delirium in the community; 10 interviews were undertaken. Data were analysed using the framework approach. Challenges to delirium management in the community included limited time with patients, reliance on families and access to medications. Assessment tools were not used routinely; time limited visits and inconsistent retesting were perceived barriers. Management approaches differed depending on CNSs' previous delirium education. Strategies to prevent delirium were not used. Community delirium management presents challenges; support surrounding these could be beneficial. Routine assessment tool use and delirium prevention strategies should be included in further education and research.
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.
Being given a new diagnosis, living with serious illness, going through the dying process, and grieving all clearly will have a large impact on a patient’s emotional and psychiatric health. For Physician Assistants working in diverse settings, including primary care, oncology, cardiology, and other specialties, fluency in psychiatric issues in the seriously ill or dying patient is a necessity to providing holistic care. The Physician As-sistant has the opportunity to identify psychiatric issues and be proactive about a team-based approach to therapeutic interventions. Many patients appropriate for palliative care can have a psychological overlap in how they face disease, cope with treatments, interact with family, and ultimately view death. In the health care setting, there can be a tendency to separate the physical symptoms of disease and treatments; however, they are intimately intertwined with the mental, psychological,and spiritual aspects of care. Mental health impacts not only the individual patient but also caregivers and families of those with serious illness
Background: The role of neuroleptics for terminal agitated delirium is controversial. We assessed the effect of three neuroleptic strategies on refractory agitation in patients with cancer with terminal delirium.
Methods: In this single-centre, double-blind, parallel-group, randomised trial, patients with advanced cancer, aged at least 18 years, admitted to the palliative and supportive care unit at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX, USA), with refractory agitation, despite low-dose haloperidol, were randomly assigned to receive intravenous haloperidol dose escalation at 2 mg every 4 h, neuroleptic rotation with chlorpromazine at 25 mg every 4 h, or combined haloperidol at 1 mg and chlorpromazine at 12·5 mg every 4 h, until death or discharge. Rescue doses identical to the scheduled doses were administered at inception, and then hourly as needed. Permuted block randomisation (block size six; 1:1:1) was done, stratified by baseline Richmond Agitation Sedation Scale (RASS) scores. Research staff, clinicians, patients, and caregivers were masked to group assignment. The primary outcome was change in RASS score from time 0 to 24 h. Comparisons among group were done by modified intention-to-treat analysis. This completed study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03021486.
Findings: Between July 5, 2017, and July 1, 2019, 998 patients were screened for eligibility, with 68 being enrolled and randomly assigned to treatment; 45 received the masked study interventions (escalation n=15, rotation n=16, combination n=14). RASS score decreased significantly within 30 min and remained low at 24 h in the escalation group (n=10, mean RASS score change between 0 h and 24 h -3·6 [95% CI -5·0 to -2·2]), rotation group (n=11, -3·3 [–4·4 to -2·2]), and combination group (n=10, -3·0 [–4·6 to -1·4]), with no difference among groups (p=0·71). The most common serious toxicity was hypotension (escalation n=6 [40%], rotation n=5 [31%], combination n=3 [21%]); there were no treatment-related deaths.
Interpretation: Our data provide preliminary evidence that the three strategies of neuroleptics might reduce agitation in patients with terminal agitation. These findings are in the context of the single-centre design, small sample size, and lack of a placebo-only group.
Funding: National Institute of Nursing Research.
This issue of Medical Clinics, guest edited by Dr. Eric Widera, is devoted to Palliative Care. Articles in this important issue include: Hospice and palliative care: an overview; Goals of care conversations in palliative care: A practical guide; The art and science of prognostication in palliative care; Recognizing and managing polypharmacy in advanced illness; Pain management in those with serious illness; Management of grief, depression, and suicidal thoughts in those with serious illness; Management of respiratory symptoms in those with serious illness; Management of gastrointestinal symptoms inadvanced illness; Management of urgent medical conditions at the end of life; Delirium at the end of life; Options of last resort: palliative sedation, Physician aid in dying and voluntary cessation of eating and drinking; Cannabis for symptom management; and Self-care of physicians caring for patients with serious illness.
OBJECTIVES: Delirium is common and distressing in palliative care settings. This survey aims to describe current practice regarding delirium identification in specialist palliative care units (SPCU), such as inpatient hospices, in the UK.
METHODS: An 18-item anonymous online survey was distributed by Hospice UK to their network of clinical leads (n=223), and to their research mailing list (n=228). The survey was also sent to the chair of the Hospice UK executive clinical leads forum for direct dissemination to forum representatives (n=20). Clinical leads and forum representatives were asked to distribute the survey to healthcare staff in their SPCUs.
RESULTS: 220 SPCU staff (48% nurses; 31% doctors; 10% healthcare assistants) completed the survey. Approximately half reported using clinical judgement alone to screen (97/204; 48%) and/or diagnose (124/220; 56%) delirium. Over a third used an assessment tool to screen for delirium (76/204; 37%). The majority (150/220; 68%) reported screening in response to clinical symptoms, while few reported routine on-admission (11/220; 5%) or daily-during-admission (12/220; 6%) screening. Most respondents had received some training on delirium (137/220; 62%). However, 130/220 (59%) said their SPCU did not have a training programme for delirium screening and only 79/220 (36%) reported that their SPCU had delirium clinical guidelines. The main barriers to routine screening included: lack of delirium training, lack of guidelines and complexity of patient's conditions.
CONCLUSION: There is variation in practice for delirium screening and diagnosis in SPCUs. Clinical guidelines for delirium, including consensus on which screening tools to use, are needed for this setting.
Background: Delirium is a common debilitating complication of advanced cancer.
Objective: To determine if a multicomponent nonpharmacological delirium prevention intervention was feasible for adult patients with advanced cancer, before a phase III (efficacy) trial.
Design: Phase II (feasibility) cluster randomized controlled trial. All sites implemented delirium screening and diagnostic assessment. Strategies within sleep, vision and hearing, hydration, orientation, mobility, and family domains were delivered to enrolled patients at intervention site admission days 1–7. Control sites then implemented the intervention (“waitlist sites”).
Setting: Four Australian palliative care units.
Measurements: The primary outcome was adherence, with an a priori endpoint of at least 60% patients achieving full adherence. Secondary outcomes were interdisciplinary care delivery, delirium measures, and adverse events, analyzed descriptively and inferentially.
Rsults: Sixty-five enrolled patients (25 control, 20 intervention, and 20 waitlist) had 98% delirium screens and 75% diagnostic assessments completed. Nurses (67%), physicians (16%), allied health (8.4%), family (7%), patients (1%), and volunteers (0.5%) delivered the intervention. There was full adherence for 5% patients at intervention sites, partial for 25%. Both full and partial adherence were higher at waitlist sites: 25% and 45%, respectively. One-third of control site patients (32%) became delirious within seven days of admission compared to one-fifth (20%) at both intervention and waitlist sites (p = 0.5). Mean (standard deviation) Delirium Rating Scale-Revised-1998 scores were 16.8 + 12.0 control sites versus 18.4 + 8.2 (p = 0.6) intervention and 18.7 + 7.8 (p = 0.5) waitlist sites. The intervention caused no adverse events.
Conclusion: The intervention requires modification for optimal adherence in a phase III trial.
Delirium is a prevalent acute neurocognitive condition in patients with progressive life-limiting illness. Delirium remains underdetected; a systematic approach to screening is essential. Delirium at the end of life requires a comprehensive assessment. Consider the potential for reversibility, illness trajectory, patient preference, and goals of care before proceeding with investigations and interventions. Management should be interdisciplinary, and nonpharmacologic therapy is fundamental. For patients with refractory and severe agitation or perceptual disturbance, judicious use of medication may also be required. Carers and family should be seen as partners in care and be involved in shared decision making about care.
Terminal delirium is a common occurrence in patients at the end of life, and its presence is widely accepted as a poor prognostic indicator. The hyperactive subtype is characterized by psychomotor agitation that is distressing to patients, caregivers, and providers. The purpose of this study was to determine whether physical, psychosocial, or spiritual data collected at hospice admission are associated with development of hyperactive terminal delirium. In this retrospective cohort study, 154 patients were assigned to one of two cohorts depending on whether or not they had signs of hyperactive terminal delirium. Hospice admission data from the Hospice Item Set, psychosocial assessment, and spiritual assessment were analyzed using descriptive statistics, inferential statistics, and logistic regression. Although there were no statistically significant relationships among the physical, psychosocial, and spiritual variables and hyperactive terminal delirium, there were some findings that are clinically significant for nurses caring for patients at the end of life. Specifically, this study highlights the importance of ongoing physical, psychosocial, and spiritual assessment throughout the end-of-life trajectory, as well as prompt management of symptoms.
Delirium is a frequent condition in patients in a palliative care situation and most often associated with substantial burden or even danger for the persons concerned as well as caregivers and health-care-professionals. Despite the lack of randomized-controlled-trials (RCTs) benzodiazepines and neuroleptic agents are used extensively in palliative care for the pharmacological management of delirium. A focused review for RCTs assessing pharmacotherapy with benzodiazepines and neuroleptics for the treatment of delirium in patients treated in a palliative care or hospice setting published in 2017 was performed in PubMed. A narrative summary of the findings of the RCTs and practical recommendation are presented. Of 42 publications, two RCTs could be included. One trial assessed the use of lorazepam (in addition to haloperidol) in case of agitation, the other placebo or risperidone or haloperidol in delirious palliative care patients. Neither risperidone nor haloperidol were superior compared to placebo, but were associated with higher mortality and morbidity. Lorazepam (along with haloperidol) reduced agitation in patients with delirium compared to placebo (along with haloperidol), but was unable to reduce the severity and incidence of delirium. It is of importance to note that psychopharmacotherapy with antipsychotics is mainly indicated for the hyperactive form of delirium and psychotic symptoms (e.g., delusions or hallucinations) in the hyper- and hypoactive delirium. Severe agitation and aggressivity can be an indication for neuroleptics, when non-pharmacological interventions fail, whereas the use of benzodiazepines has to be limited to critical situations where neuroleptics cannot be applied and cases of delirium due to alcohol withdrawal. Both substances can aggravate, precipitate or mask delirium, result adverse events with substantial distress or unfavorable survival outcomes for the patients. Thus, they should only be used in severely symptomatic patients and the duration of the medication has to be limited in time. When delirium symptoms decay the psychopharmacotherapy has to be tapered. More important than psychopharmacotherapy, the thorough investigation and treatment of potentially reversible causes of delirium (e.g., pharmacotherapy, infection) and the routine identification of patients at risk for delirium along with prophylactic measures are essential. The recently published landmarks RCTs provide moderate evidence to adopt recommendations from other medical specialties (i.e., intensive care, geriatrics) to the field of palliative care.
CONTEXT: Few studies have examined how clinicians assess decision-making capacity for research in the last weeks of life.
OBJECTIVE: We examined the decision-making capacity for participation in a research study and its association with clinician impression and delirium among cancer patients with days to weeks of life expectancy.
METHODS: Patients admitted to our Palliative and Supportive Care Unit (PSCU) were approached for a prospective observational study. We assessed for their decision-making capacity based on clinical impression of physician and nurse, Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale (MDAS) and the MacArthur Competency Assessment Tool for Clinical Research (MacCAT-CR).
RESULTS: Among the 206 patients, 131 patients (64%) did not require MacCAT-CR assessment because they were overtly delirious or unresponsive; 37 (18%) patients were alert but did not complete the MacCAT-CR assessment for other reasons and 38 patients (18%) completed the MacCAT-CR assessment. Among these 38 patients, 5 (13%) were incapable and had normal albeit significantly higher MDAS scores compared to those who were capable (1.8 vs. 4.2, P=0.002). Compared against MacCAT-CR and MDAS, the overall agreement with capacity assessment with a clinician was 88% (95% CI 82-93%) for physicians and 90% (95% CI 82-94%) for nurses. The area-under the receiver-operating characteristics curve was 0.93 (95% CI 0.88-0.96) for physicians and 0.94 (95% CI 0.89-0.97) for nurses, suggesting high discrimination.
CONCLUSION: A majority of patients in the PSCU lacked decision-making capacity for participation in clinical research. Clinician impression had high accuracy. Few patients with normal MDAS were found to be incapable with MacCAT-CR assessment.
Background: Delirium in the hospitals leads to worse outcomes for patients. There were no previous studies that characterize patients with delirium from multiple hospital locations.
Objective: To describe patient characteristics screening positive for delirium and identify any correlations with hospital location and medication use.
Design, Settings, Patients: Retrospective chart review of 227 hospitalized patients from a large, academic, tertiary referral, 2-campus health system. Patients were =18 years old and had delirium for at least =24 hours. Validated delirium screening tools were utilized.
Measurements: Patients’ demographics, inpatient stay information, delirium episodes characteristics, drugs, and palliative and psychiatry teams’ involvement.
Results: Most patients were older with a mean age of 64.1 years. The most common primary diagnoses were infection, cardiac, and pulmonary. Average length of delirium was 7.2 days (standard deviation [SD] = 8.2), and average length of stay (LOS) was 18.7 days (median = 10.5, SD = 35.1, 95% confidence interval = 14.1-23). Thirty-day readmission rate was 24.8% (65/262 hospitalizations); 12.8% of patients died in the hospital (29/227). Around one-third of hospitalizations had involvement of palliative care, palliative psychiatry, or general psychiatry team. There was a decrease in the number of medications administered 24 hours after the first recording of delirium compared to the immediate preceding 48 hours. Those hospitalizations where delirium first occurred in the intensive care unit (ICU) did have a longer LOS (average = 22.9, SD = 45.7) than those where delirium first occurred outside the ICU (average = 14.8, SD = 20.5). Patients were likely to have received an opioid within 48 hours in 51% of hospitalizations and to have received benzodiazepines in 16% of hospitalizations.
Conclusion: In our study, we found that delirium significantly impacted length of delirium episode, number of episodes of delirium, length of hospital admission, and mortality. The population most sensitive to the impacts of delirium were elderly patients.
BACKGROUND: Delirium is a syndrome characterised by an acute disturbance of attention and awareness which develops over a short time period and fluctuates in severity over the course of the day. It is commonly experienced during inpatient admission in the terminal phase of illness. It can cause symptoms such as agitation and hallucinations and is distressing for terminally ill people, their families and staff. Delirium may arise from any number of causes and treatment should aim to address these causes. When this is not possible, or treatment is unsuccessful, drug therapy to manage the symptoms may become necessary. This is the second update of the review first published in 2004.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of drug therapies to manage delirium symptoms in terminally ill adults.
SEARCH METHODS: We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL and PsycINFO from inception to July 2019, reference lists of retrieved papers, and online trial registries.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised controlled trials of drug therapies in any dose by any route, compared to another drug therapy, a non-pharmacological approach, placebo, standard care or wait-list control, for the management of delirium symptoms in terminally ill adults (18 years or older).
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We independently screened citations, extracted data and assessed risk of bias. Primary outcomes were delirium symptoms; agitation score; adverse events. Secondary outcomes were: use of rescue medication; cognitive status; survival. We applied the GRADE approach to assess the overall quality of the evidence for each outcome and we include eight 'Summary of findings' tables.
MAIN RESULTS: We included four studies (three new to this update), with 399 participants. Most participants had advanced cancer or advanced AIDS, and mild- to moderate-severity delirium. Meta-analysis was not possible because no two studies examined the same comparison. Each study was at high risk of bias for at least one criterion. Most evidence was low to very low quality, downgraded due to very serious study limitations, imprecision or because there were so few data. Most studies reported delirium symptoms; two reported agitation scores; three reported adverse events with data on extrapyramidal effects; and none reported serious adverse events. 1. Haloperidol versus placebo There may be little to no difference between placebo and haloperidol in delirium symptoms within 24 hours (mean difference (MD) 0.34, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.07 to 0.75; 133 participants). Haloperidol may slightly worsen delirium symptoms compared with placebo at 48 hours (MD 0.49, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.88; 123 participants with mild- to moderate-severity delirium). Haloperidol may reduce agitation slightly compared with placebo between 24 and 48 hours (MD -0.14, 95% -0.28 to -0.00; 123 participants with mild- to moderate-severity delirium). Haloperidol probably increases extrapyramidal adverse effects compared with placebo (MD 0.79, 95% CI 0.17 to 1.41; 123 participants with mild- to moderate-severity delirium). 2. Haloperidol versus risperidone There may be little to no difference in delirium symptoms with haloperidol compared with risperidone within 24 hours (MD -0.42, 95% CI -0.90 to 0.06; 126 participants) or 48 hours (MD -0.36, 95% CI -0.92 to 0.20; 106 participants with mild- to moderate-severity delirium). Agitation scores and adverse events were not reported for this comparison. 3. Haloperidol versus olanzapine We are uncertain whether haloperidol reduces delirium symptoms compared with olanzapine within 24 hours (MD 2.36, 95% CI -0.75 to 5.47; 28 participants) or 48 hours (MD 1.90, 95% CI -1.50 to 5.30, 24 participants). Agitation scores and adverse events were not reported for this comparison. 4. Risperidone versus placebo Risperidone may slightly worsen delirium symptoms compared with placebo within 24 hours (MD 0.76, 95% CI 0.30 to 1.22; 129 participants); and at 48 hours (MD 0.85, 95% CI 0.32 to 1.38; 111 participants with mild- to moderate-severity delirium). There may be little to no difference in agitation with risperidone compared with placebo between 24 and 48 hours (MD -0.05, 95% CI -0.19 to 0.09; 111 participants with mild- to moderate-severity delirium). Risperidone may increase extrapyramidal adverse effects compared with placebo (MD 0.73 95% CI 0.09 to 1.37; 111 participants with mild- to moderate-severity delirium). 5. Lorazepam plus haloperidol versus placebo plus haloperidol We are uncertain whether lorazepam plus haloperidol compared with placebo plus haloperidol improves delirium symptoms within 24 hours (MD 2.10, 95% CI -1.00 to 5.20; 50 participants with moderate to severe delirium), reduces agitation within 24 hours (MD 1.90, 95% CI 0.90 to 2.80; 52 participants), or increases adverse events (RR 0.70, 95% CI -0.19 to 2.63; 31 participants with moderate to severe delirium). 6. Haloperidol versus chlorpromazine We are uncertain whether haloperidol reduces delirium symptoms compared with chlorpromazine at 48 hours (MD 0.37, 95% CI -4.58 to 5.32; 24 participants). Agitation scores were not reported. We are uncertain whether haloperidol increases adverse events compared with chlorpromazine (MD 0.46, 95% CI -4.22 to 5.14; 24 participants). 7. Haloperidol versus lorazepam We are uncertain whether haloperidol reduces delirium symptoms compared with lorazepam at 48 hours (MD -4.88, 95% CI -9.70 to 0.06; 17 participants). Agitation scores were not reported. We are uncertain whether haloperidol increases adverse events compared with lorazepam (MD -6.66, 95% CI -14.85 to 1.53; 17 participants). 8. Lorazepam versus chlorpromazine We are uncertain whether lorazepam reduces delirium symptoms compared with chlorpromazine at 48 hours (MD 5.25, 95% CI 0.38 to 10.12; 19 participants), or increases adverse events (MD 7.12, 95% CI 1.08 to 15.32; 18 participants). Agitation scores were not reported.
SECONDARY OUTCOMES: use of rescue medication, cognitive impairment, survival There were insufficient data to draw conclusions or assess GRADE.
AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: We found no high-quality evidence to support or refute the use of drug therapy for delirium symptoms in terminally ill adults. We found low-quality evidence that risperidone or haloperidol may slightly worsen delirium symptoms of mild to moderate severity for terminally ill people compared with placebo. We found moderate- to low-quality evidence that haloperidol and risperidone may slightly increase extrapyramidal adverse events for people with mild- to moderate-severity delirium. Given the small number of studies and participants on which current evidence is based, further research is essential.
Delirium is highly prevalent in people with advanced life limiting illness(es), and current evidence can inform how we provide best delirium care in this setting. Whilst strategies to prevent and reverse delirium are the cornerstones of optimal care, the care for delirious patients who are approaching the end of life and their families pose specific challenges particularly if delirium is refractory flagging a grave prognosis. These include addressing additional supportive care needs, clinical decision-making about the degree of investigation and intervention, minimising distress from the symptoms of delirium itself and considering other concurrent problems contributing to agitation. A fine balance is needed to address other symptoms such as pain whilst minimizing psychoactive medication load. There is need for regular and clear information and communication about prognosis and goals of care. Witnessing a delirium episode in a loved one in close proximity to death requires consideration of the needs of the family into bereavement care. Palliative care is person and family-centred care provided for a person with an active, progressive, advanced disease; who has little or no prospect of cure and who is expected to die, and for whom the primary treatment goal is to optimise quality of life. It is an approach which can be provided regardless of setting and diagnosis, and by both specialist palliative care teams and other health professionals.
Background: Delirium in advanced cancer inpatient ranges between 13% and 85%. Reasons for this variability on the reported data could be related to the setting where they are admitted.
Methods: This is an observational, comparative, prospective study on delirium diagnosis and delirium course of advanced cancer inpatients in two different palliative care settings. Hospice (C1) versus palliative care supportive team (C2). Differences between delirium precipitants, delirium treatment, and delirium survival were observed.
Results: From 582 consecutive admissions, 494 from C1 and 88 from C2, finally 227 patients met inclusion criteria, were entered in the study. Total population delirium rate at admission, if we add both centers, was 57 patients (25%), 46 (26%) from C1 and 11 (22%) from C2; no statistically significant differences between delirium rate at admission between the two centers were found ( 2). When delirium course between delirious patients admitted in C1 and C2 was analyzed, a significantly higher rate of delirium reversibility was found in C2 [11/14 (78%)] versus [9/65 (14%)] in C1 ( 2p = 0.001).
Conclusion: The frequency of delirium at admission and during the hospitalization in advanced cancer patients does not seem to be related to the setting, what seems to be related is the delirium course.
Background: Treatment of delirium often includes haloperidol. Second-generation antipsychotics like olanzapine have emerged as an alternative with possibly fewer side effects. The aim of this multicenter, phase III, randomized clinical trial was to compare the efficacy and tolerability of olanzapine with haloperidol for the treatment of delirium in hospitalized patients with advanced cancer.
Materials and Methods: Eligible adult patients (=18 years) with advanced cancer and delirium (Delirium Rating Scale-Revised-98 [DRS-R-98] total score =17.75) were randomized 1:1 to receive either haloperidol or olanzapine (age-adjusted, titratable doses). Primary endpoint was delirium response rate (DRR), defined as number of patients with DRS-R-98 severity score <15.25 and =4.5 points reduction. Secondary endpoints included time to response (TTR), tolerability, and delirium-related distress.
Results: Between January 2011 and June 2016, 98 patients were included in the intention-to-treat analysis. DRR was 45% (95% confidence interval [CI], 31–59) for olanzapine and 57% (95% CI, 43–71) for haloperidol ( DRR -12%; odds ratio [OR], 0.61; 95% CI, 0.2–1.4; p = .23). Mean TTR was 4.5 days (95% CI, 3.2–5.9 days) for olanzapine and 2.8 days (95% CI, 1.9–3.7 days; p = .18) for haloperidol. Grade =3 treatmen-related adverse events occurred in 5 patients (10.2%) and 10 patients (20.4%) in the olanzapine and haloperidol arm, respectively. Distress rates were similar in both groups. The study was terminated early because of futility.
Conclusion: Delirium treatment with olanzapine in hospitalized patients with advanced cancer did not result in improvement of DRR or TTR compared with haloperidol. Clinical trial identification number. NCT01539733. Dutch Trial Register. NTR2559.
Implications for Practice: Guidelines recommend that pharmacological interventions for delirium treatment in adults with cancer should be limited to patients who have distressing delirium symptoms. It was suggested that atypical antipsychotics, such as olanzapine, outperform haloperidol in efficacy and safety. However, collective data comparing the efficacy and safety of typical versus atypical antipsychotics in patients with cancer are limited. If targeted and judicious use of antipsychotics is considered for the treatment of delirium in patients with advanced cancer, this study demonstrated that there was no statistically significant difference in response to haloperidol or olanzapine. Olanzapine showed an overall better safety profile compared with haloperidol, although this difference was not statistically significant.
Palliative care (PC) providers often prescribe psychotropic medications to address psychological and physical suffering of patients with serious medical illness. Consideration must be given to the significant medical comorbidities of the patients with serious medical illness. This article seeks to provide guidance on how to safety and effectively select a psychotropic agent for depression, anxiety, and other distressing symptoms for patients with serious illness. To do so, we draw upon a team of physicians and a pharmacist with training in psychiatric and PC to highlight the "Top 10" tips for selecting a psychotropic medication to provide relief for patients with serious medical illness.
OBJECTIVE: Delirium is a common complication in palliative care patients, especially in the terminal phase of the illness. To date, evidence regarding risk factors and prognostic outcomes of delirium in this vulnerable population remains sparse.
METHOD: In this prospective observational cohort study at a tertiary care center, 410 palliative care patients were included. Simple and multiple logistic regression models were used to identify associations between predisposing and precipitating factors and delirium in palliative care patients.
RESULTS: The prevalence of delirium in this palliative care cohort was 55.9% and reached 93% in the terminally ill. Delirium was associated with prolonged hospitalization (p < 0.001), increased care requirements (p < 0.001) and health care costs (p < 0.001), requirement for institutionalization (OR 0.11; CI 0.069-0.171; p < 0.001), and increased mortality (OR 18.29; CI 8.918-37.530; p < 0.001). Predisposing factors for delirium were male gender (OR 2.19; CI 1.251-3.841; p < 0.01), frailty (OR 15.28; CI 5.885-39.665; p < 0.001), hearing (OR 3.52; CI 1.721-7.210; p < 0.001), visual impairment (OR 3.15; CI 1.765-5.607; p < 0.001), and neoplastic brain disease (OR 3.63; CI 1.033-12.771; p < 0.05). Precipitating factors for delirium were acute renal failure (OR 6.79; CI 1.062-43.405; p < 0.05) and pressure sores (OR 3.66; CI 1.102-12.149; p < 0.05).
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Our study identified several predisposing and precipitating risk factors for delirium in palliative care patients, some of which can be targeted early and modified to reduce symptom burden.
BACKGROUND: Delirium, a neuropsychiatric syndrome that occurs throughout medical illness trajectories, is frequently misdiagnosed. The Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale (MDAS) is a commonly used tool in palliative care (PC) settings. Our objective was to establish and validate the Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale-Thai version (MDAS-T) in PC patients.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The MDAS was translated into Thai. Content validity, inter-rater reliability, and internal consistency were explored. The construct validity of the MDAS-T was analyzed using exploratory factor analysis. Instrument testing of the MDAS-T, the Thai version of the Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit (CAM-ICU-T), and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition as the gold standard was performed. The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was used to determine the optimal cutoff score. The duration of each assessment was recorded.
RESULTS: The study enrolled 194 patients. The content validity index was 0.97. The intraclass correlation coefficient and Cronbach’s a coefficient were 0.98 and 0.96, respectively. A principal component analysis indicated a homogeneous, one-factor structure. The area under the ROC curve was 0.96 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.93–0.99). The best combination of sensitivity and specificity (95% CI) of the MDAS-Twere 0.92 (0.85–0.96) and 0.90 (0.82–0.94), respectively,with a cutoff score of 9, whereas the CAM-ICU-T yielded 0.58(0.48–0.67) and 0.98 (0.93–0.99), respectively. The median MDAS-T assessment time was 5 minutes.
CONCLUSION: This study established and validated the MDAS-T as a good and feasible tool for delirium screening and severity rating in PC settings.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Delirium is prevalent in palliative care (PC) settings and causes distress to patients and families, thereby making delirium screening necessary. This study found that the MDAS-T is a highly objective and feasible test for delirium screening and severity monitoring in PC settings and can greatly improve the quality of care for this population.
Terminal delirium is a distressing irreversible process that occurs frequently in the dying phase, often misdiagnosed and undertreated. A previous study in our organization revealed that terminal delirium was a poorly managed symptom at end of life. Pharmacological options are available in an existing order set to manage this symptom. The management plans of 41 patients identified as having terminal delirium were further evaluated. Elements extracted included medications prescribed to manage terminal delirium, whether medication changes occurred, and whether they were administered and effective. Patients with the order set were more comfortable as compared with the group without. Both groups had several changes made by the palliative care team. Nurses did not administer prescribed as-needed medication to more than one-third of patients. Modifications will be made to the existing order set, and additional education for staff will be organized.