BACKGROUND: The anaesthetic propofol is often mentioned as a drug that can be used in palliative sedation. The existing literature of how to use propofol in palliative sedation is scarce, with lack of information about how propofol could be initiated for palliative sedation, doses and treatment outcomes.
AIM: To describe the patient population, previous and concomitant medication and clinical outcome when propofol was used for palliative sedation.
METHODS: A retrospective study with quantitative and qualitative data. All patients who during a four-and-a-half-year period received propofol for palliative sedation at the Department of palliative medicine, Akershus University Hospital, Norway were included.
RESULTS: Fourteen patients were included. In six patients the main indication for palliative sedation was pain, in seven dyspnoea and in one delirium. In eight of these cases propofol was chosen because of the pharmacokinetic properties (rapid effect), and in the remaining cases because midazolam in spite of dose titration failed to provide sufficient symptom relief. In all patients sedation and adequate symptom control was achieved during manual dose titration. During the maintenance phase three of fourteen patients had spontaneous awakenings. At death propofol doses ranged from 60 to 340 mg/hour.
CONCLUSIONS: Severe suffering at the end of life can be successfully treated with propofol for palliative sedation. This can be performed in palliative medicine wards, but skilled observation and dose titration throughout the period of palliative sedation is necessary. Successful initial sedation does not guarantee uninterrupted sedation until death.
Background: Information routinely collected during a palliative care consultation request may help predict the level of complexity of that patient encounter.
Objectives: We examined whether patient and consultation characteristics, as captured in consultation requests, are associated with the number of unmet palliative care needs that emerge during consultation, as an indicator of complexity.
Design: We performed a retrospective cohort analysis of palliative care consultations.
Setting: We analyzed quality-of-care data from specialty palliative care consultations contained in the Quality Data Collection Tool of the Global Palliative Care Quality Alliance from 2012 to 2017.
Measurements: Using 13 point-of-care assessments of quality of life, symptoms, advance care planning, and prognosis, we created a complexity score ranging from 0 (not complex) to 13 (highest complexity). Using multivariable linear regression, we examined the relationships of consultation setting and patient characteristics with complexity score.
Results: Patients in our cohort (N = 3121) had an average complexity score of 6.7 (standard deviation = 3.7). Female gender, nonwhite race, and neurological (e.g., dementia) and noncancer primary diagnosis were associated with increased complexity score. The hospital intensive care unit, compared with the general floor, was associated with higher complexity scores. In contrast, outpatient and residence, compared with the general floor, were associated with lower complexity scores.
Conclusion: Patient, disease, and care setting factors known at the time of specialty palliative care consultation request are associated with level of complexity, and they may inform teams about the right service provisions, including time and expertise, required to meet patient needs.
Aims: choosing the optimal palliative lung radiotherapy regimen is challenging. Guidance from The Royal College of Radiologists recommends treatment stratification based on performance status, but evidence suggests that higher radiotherapy doss may be associated with survival benefits. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of fractionation regimen and additional factors on the survival of palliative lung cancer radiotherapy patients.
Materials and methods: A retrospective univariable (n = 925) and multivariable (n = 422) survival analysis of the prognostic significance of baseline patient characteristics and treatment prescription was carried out on patients with non-small cell and small cell lung cancer treated with palliative lung radiotherapy. The covariates investigated included: gender, age, performance status, histology, comorbidities, stage, tumour location, tumour side, smoking status, pack year history, primary radiotherapy technique and fractionation scheme. The overall mortality rate at 30 and 90 days of treatment was calculated.
Results: univariable analysis revealed that performance status (P < 0.001), fractionation scheme (P < 0.001), comorbidities (P = 0.02), small cell histology (P = 0.02), ‘lifelong never’ smoking status (P = 0.01) and gender (P = 0.06) were associated with survival. Upon multivariable analysis, only better performance status (P = 0.01) and increased dose/fractionation regimens of up to 30 Gy/10 fractions (P < 0.001) were associated with increased survival. Eighty-five (9.2%) and 316 patients (34%) died within 30 and 90 days of treatment, respectively.
Conclusion: In this retrospective single-centre analysis of palliative lung radiotherapy, increased total dose (up to and including 30 Gy/10 fractions) was associated with better survival regardless of performance status.
Context: At our institution, clinical pathways capture physicians’ prognostication of patients being evaluated for palliative radiotherapy (PRT). We hypothesize a low utilization rate of long-course RT (LCRT) and stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SAbR) among patients seen at the end-of-life, especially those with physician predicted poor prognosis.
Objective: To analyze utilization rates and predictors of LCRT and SAbR at the end-of-life.
Methods: A retrospective review was conducted on patients who were evaluated for PRT between January 2017 to August 2019 and died within 90 days of consultation. Binary logistic regression was used to identify predictors for utilization of LCRT (=10 fractions) and SAbR.
Results: A total of 1,608 patients were identified, of which 1,038 patients (64.6%) were predicted to die within a year. 693 patients (66.8%) out of 1,038 were prescribed LCRT or SAbR. On multivariate analysis, patients were less likely to be prescribed LCRT if treated at an academic site (OR 0.30; 95% CI 0.23-0.39; p<0.01) and treated for bone metastases (OR 0.08; 95% CI 0.05-0.11; p<0.01) or other non-brain/non-bone metastases (OR 0.19; 95% CI 0.13-0.30; p<0.01). SAbR was less likely to be prescribed among patients predicted to die within a year (OR, 0.09; 95% CI 0.06-0.16; p<0.01), treated for bone metastases (OR, 0.13; 95% CI 0.07-0.22; p<0.01), with poor performance status (OR, 0.51; 95% CI 0.31-0.85; p=0.01), and with a breast primary (OR, 0.35; 95% CI 0.15-0.82; p=0.02).
Conclusion: Despite most patients predicted to have a limited prognosis, LCRT and SAbR were commonly prescribed at the end-of-life.
Background: The use of continuous sedation until death (CSD) has been highly debated for many years. It is unknown how the use of CSD evolves over time. Reports suggest that there is an international increase in the use of CSD for terminally ill patients.
Objective: To gain insight in developments in the use of CSD in various countries and subpopulations.
Design: We performed a search of the literature published between January 2000 and April 2020, in Pubmed, Embase, CINAHL, Psycinfo and the Cochrane Library by using the PRISMA guidelines. The search contained the following terms: continuous sedation, terminal sedation, palliative sedation, deep sedation, end-of-life sedation, sedation practice, and sedation until death.
Results: We found 23 articles on 16 nationwide studies and 38 articles on 37 subpopulation studies. In nationwide studies on deceased persons frequencies of CSD varied from 3% in Denmark in 2001 to 18% in the Netherlands in 2015. Nationwide studies indicate an increase in the use of CSD. Frequencies of CSD in the different subpopulations varied too widely to observe time trends. Over the years more studies reported on the use of CSD for non-physical symptoms including fear, anxiety, and psycho-existential distress. In some studies, there was an increase in requests for sedation of patients and their families.
Conclusions: The frequency of CSD seems to increase over time possibly partly due to an extension of indications for sedation, from mainly physical symptoms to also non-physical symptoms.
Objectives: We evaluated the trend of end-of-life healthcare utilization and life-sustaining interventions for older adults with dementia 3 to 4 years after the change in hospice policy.
Design: Population-based retrospective cohort study.
Setting and participants: we used the National Health Insurance Research database of enrolled patients =65 years of age diagnosed with dementia who died in 2010-2013 (n = 2062).
Methods: Aggressive treatments, including healthcare utilization and life-sustaining interventions, were recorded within 6 months of death. Aggressive healthcare utilization included =1 emergency department visits, =1 hospitalizations, >14 days of hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, and death in an acute care hospital. Life-sustaining interventions were enteral tube, artificial nutrition, blood transfusion, hemodialysis, invasive ventilation, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Results: Compared with 2010 2012, 2013 rates significantly decreased for all measures (P < .001). Composite scores of healthcare utilization and life-sustaining treatments in 2013 were significantly lower than for 2010 2012, after controlling for confounding variables (both P < .001).
Conclusions and implications: Older patients with dementia had a trend of reduced healthcare utilization and fewer life-sustaining treatments near the end of life from 2010 to 2013 after a policy change.
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.
Objectives: Euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS) of individuals with mental disorders is a growing practice in several countries, including the Netherlands. Here, we aimed to identify the most frequent dimensions of and associated factors to psychological pain, which has been associated with suicidality, in individuals undergoing psychiatric EAS.
Methods: An exploratory retrospective content analysis of the English translation of 66 digital case records of individuals who died by EAS in the Netherlands between 2011 and 2014 was performed. Nine standard psychological pain dimensions (irreversibility, loss of control, emptiness, emotional flooding, freezing, social distancing, narcissistic wounds, confusion, and self-estrangement), illness, and sociodemographic variables were evaluated by 2 independent raters using a premade data abstraction form (Kohen > 0.8 in all cases).
Results: The mean number of dimensions was 4.64 ± 1.20 (median = 5), out of 9. The most frequent dimensions were irreversibility, loss of control, emptiness, and emotional flooding, in decreasing order. Past treatment refusal and the mention of social connections in case descriptions were related to the higher number of psychological pain dimensions (4.89 ± 1.24 vs. 4.31 ± 1.07, P = 0.03 and 5.05 ± 1.17 vs. 4.43 ± 1.17, P = 0.03, respectively). Emotional flooding was the only dimension specifically associated with specific psychiatric conditions, namely posttraumatic phenomena and personality disorders.
Conclusions: Numerous psychological pain dimensions were detected in case descriptions of individuals who underwent EAS before the procedure. Subjective nature of the study precludes definite conclusions but suggest that future studies should explore psychological pain and the role of interventions targeting it in patients requesting EAS.
Background: Anticancer treatment exposes patients to negative consequences such as increased toxicity and decreased quality of life, and there are clear guidelines recommending limiting use of aggressive anticancer treatments for patients near end of life. The aim of this study is to investigate the association between anticancer treatment given during the last 30 days of life and adverse events contributing to death and elucidate how adverse events can be used as a measure of quality and safety in end-of-life cancer care.
Methods: Retrospective cohort study of 247 deceased hospitalised cancer patients at three hospitals in Norway in 2012 and 2013. The Global Trigger Tool method were used to identify adverse events. We used Poisson regression and binary logistic regression to compare adverse events and association with use of anticancer treatment given during the last 30 days of life.
Results: 30% of deceased hospitalised cancer patients received some kind of anticancer treatment during the last 30 days of life, mainly systemic anticancer treatment. These patients had 62% more adverse events compared to patients not being treated last 30 days, 39 vs. 24 adverse events per 1000 patient days (p < 0.001, OR 1.62 (1.23–2.15). They also had twice the odds of an adverse event contributing to death compared to patients without such treatment, 33 vs. 18% (p = 0.045, OR 1.85 (1.01–3.36)). Receiving follow up by specialist palliative care reduced the rate of AEs per 1000 patient days in both groups by 29% (p = 0.02, IRR 0.71, CI 95% 0.53–0.96).
Conclusions: Anticancer treatment given during the last 30 days of life is associated with a significantly increased rate of adverse events and related mortality. Patients receiving specialist palliative care had significantly fewer adverse events, supporting recommendations of early integration of palliative care in a patient safety perspective.
Aim: To determine if frailty is associated with poor outcome following in-hospital cardiac arrest; to find if there is a “frailty threshold” beyond which cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) becomes futile.
Methods: Retrospective review of patients aged over 60 years who received CPR between May 2017 and December 2018, in a tertiary referral hospital, which does not provide primary coronary revascularisation. Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS) and Charlson Comorbidity Index were retrospectively assigned.
Results: Data for 90 patients were analysed, the median age was 77 (IQR 70-83); 71% were male; 44% were frail (CFS > 4). Frailty was predictive of in-hospital mortality independent of age, comorbidity and cardiac arrest rhythm (OR 2.789 95% CI 1.145–6.795). No frail patients (CFS > 4) survived to hospital discharge, regardless of cardiac arrest rhythm, whilst 13 (26%) of the non-frail (CFS = 4) patients survived to hospital discharge. Of the 13 survivors (Age 72; range 61–86), 12 were alive at 1 year and had a good neurological outcome, the outcome for the remaining patient was unknown.
Conclusion: Frail patients are unlikely to survive to hospital discharge following in-hospital cardiac arrest, these results may facilitate clinical decision making regarding whether CPR may be considered futile. The Clinical Frailty Scale is a simple bedside assessment that can provide invaluable information when considering treatment escalation plans, as it becomes more widespread, larger scale observations using prospective assessments of frailty may become feasible.
Background: Patients with cancer-related pain use opioids for nociceptive pain, while gabapentinoids are common to treat neuropathic pain. The simultaneous use of opioids with gabapentinoids has been associated with an increased risk of opioid-related death.
Objectives: Determine the frequency of combined use of gabapentinoids among patients receiving opioids for cancer-related pain. We also examined if concomitant use of opioids and gabapentinoids together was associated with increased scores of fatigue and drowsiness on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) compared to patients on opioids.
Design: Retrospective study of patients on opioids and opioids plus gabapentinoids at their third visit to the outpatient Supportive Care Center.
Results: We found that 48% (508/1059) of patients were on opioids. Of these patients, 51% (257/508) were on opioids only, and 49% (251/508) were on opioids plus gabapentinoids. The median (interquartile range [IQR]) morphine equivalent daily dose for patients on opioids was 75 (45, 138) mg, and opioids plus gabapentinoids was 68 (38, 150) mg (p = 0.94). The median (IQR) gabapentinoid equivalent daily dose was 900 (300, 1200) mg. The median (IQR) for ESAS-fatigue in patients on opioids was 5 (3, 7), and opioids plus gabapentinoids was 5 (3, 7) (p = 0.27). The median (IQR) for ESAS-drowsiness in patients on opioids was 3 (0, 5), and opioids plus gabapentinoids was 3 (0, 6) (p = 0.11).
Conclusion: Almost 50% of advanced cancer patients receiving opioids for pain were exposed to gabapentinoids. Maximal efforts should be made to minimize potential complications from the concomitant use of opioids with gabapentinoids.
Purpose: The USA has observed a significant increase in the use of palliative care for patients diagnosed with advanced cancer. However, it is unknown how geographic variation affects patients’ use of palliative care services. We examined temporal and demographic trends in receipt of and timing of palliative care by state and region.
Methods: A retrospective cohort study of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database. Study sample included community-dwelling patients aged = 65 years with metastatic lung cancer who were diagnosed between 2001 and 2015. Cochran-Armitage trend test was used to evaluate temporal trends in receipt of and timing of palliative care by states and census region.
Results: The proportion of metastatic lung cancer patients who received palliative care ranged from 16.4% in Washington and 16.3% in Connecticut to 6.4% in Louisiana. From 2001 to 2015, use of palliative care increased from 3.2 to 29.8% in the West region, from 3.3 to 31.9% in the Northeast region, from 3.8 to 36.2% in the Midwest region, and from 0.9 to 23.3% in the South region (all P < 0.001). The median time from the date of cancer diagnosis to the date of first palliative care visit varied geographically, from 44 days in Utah to 66 days in California. Hospital-based palliative care was most common in these states.
Conclusion: The substantial geographic variation in the use of palliative care suggesting a need for additional research on geographic disparities in palliative care and strategies that might improve state-level palliative care delivery.
Background: Patients with end-stage liver disease awaiting liver transplantation (LT) are seriously ill and experience fluctuating periods of clinical decompensation. Discussion of a patient’s advance care planning (ACP) wishes early in their dynamic disease course is critical to providing value-aligned care while awaiting LT. We aimed to evaluate current ACP documentation and assess readiness to engage in ACP in this population.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective study of adults undergoing LT evaluation from January 2017 to June 2017 and assessed characteristics associated with documentation using logistic regression. We then administered a survey to LT candidates from March 2018 to May 2018 to determine self-reported readiness to engage in ACP (range 1 = not at all ready to 5 = very ready).
Results: Among 170 LT candidates, median (interquartile range) age was 58 (53–65), 65% were men, MELDNa was 15 (11–21), and Child–Pugh A/B/C were 33/38/29%. Nine percent reported completing ACP prior to LT evaluation, but 0% had legal ACP forms or end-of-life wishes documented in the medical record. A durable power of attorney (DPOA) was discussed with 10%. In univariable analysis, white race (OR 4.16, p = 0.03) and female sex (OR 3.06, p = 0.04) were associated with ACP documentation, but Child–Pugh score and MELDNa were not. Of the 41 LT candidates who completed the ACP survey, 93% were ready to appoint a DPOA and 85% were ready to discuss end-of-life care.
Conclusion: There is a paucity of ACP documentation and identification of DPOA among LT candidates, despite patients reporting readiness to complete ACP and appoint a DPOA. These results reveal an opportunity for tools to facilitate discussions around ACP between clinicians, patients, and their caregivers.
Background: The association between palliative care and life-sustaining treatment following emergency department (ED) resuscitation is unclear. This study aims to analyze the usage of palliative care and life-sustaining treatments among ED triage level I resuscitation patients based on a nationally representative sample of patients in Taiwan.
Methods: A matched-pair retrospective cohort study was conducted to examine the association between palliative care and outcome variables using multivariate logistic regression and Kaplan–Meier survival analyses. Between 2009 and 2013, 336 ED triage level I resuscitation patients received palliative care services (palliative care group) under a universal health insurance scheme. Retrospective cohort matching was performed with those who received standard care at a ratio of 1:4 (usual care group). Outcome variables included the number of visits to emergency and outpatient departments, hospitalization duration, total medical expenses, utilization of life-sustaining treatments, and duration of survival following ED triage level I resuscitation.
Results: The mean survival duration following level I resuscitation was less than 1 year. Palliative care was administered to 15% of the resuscitation cohort. The palliative care group received significantly less life-sustaining treatment than did the usual care group.
Conclusion: Among patients who underwent level I resuscitation, palliative care was inversely correlated with the scope of life-sustaining treatments. Furthermore, triage level I resuscitation status may present a possible new field for starting palliative care intervention and reducing low-value care.
Background: The purpose of this paper is to describe how end-of-life care is managed when life-support limitation is decided in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and to analyze the influence of the further development of the Palliative Care Unit.
Methods: A 15-year retrospective study of children who died after life-support limitation was initiated in a pediatric intensive care unit. Patients were divided into two groups, pre- and post-palliative care unit development. Epidemiological and clinical data, the decision-making process, and the approach were analyzed. Data was obtained from patient medical records.
Results: One hundred seventy-five patients were included. The main reason for admission was respiratory failure (86/175). A previous pathology was present in 152 patients (61/152 were neurological issues). The medical team and family participated together in the decision-making in 145 cases (82.8%). The family made the request in 10 cases (9 vs. 1, p = 0.019). Withdrawal was the main life-support limitation (113/175), followed by withholding life-sustaining treatments (37/175). Withdrawal was more frequent in the post-palliative group (57.4% vs. 74.3%, p = 0.031). In absolute numbers, respiratory support was the main type of support withdrawn.
Conclusions: The main cause of life-support limitation was the unfavourable evolution of the underlying pathology. Families were involved in the decision-making process in a high percentage of the cases. The development of the Palliative Care Unit changed life-support limitation in our unit, with differences detected in the type of patient and in the strategy used. Increased confidence among intensivists when providing end-of-life care, and the availability of a Palliative Care Unit may contribute to improvements in the quality of end-of-life care.
Background: Fetal malformations are diagnosed prenatally in nearly 3% of pregnancies, and [about] 1.2% are major malformations. After prenatal diagnosis, it is imperative to consider families' values and to support their decision-making process. Prenatal palliative care is a growing field mainly based on family conferences. The prenatal care setting is unique and differs from postnatal and adult care. There are no descriptions of family conferences in prenatal palliative care. The descriptions of themes that emerge from the prenatal care conference charts may guide professionals in this delicate task, and help determine the causes of suffering and identify family values before the birth of the infant.
Aim: To perform a content analysis of medical records of family conferences and to describe the main themes observed during prenatal palliative care follow-up after the diagnosis of a life-limiting fetal condition.
Design: This is a retrospective study of medical records of family conferences from a perinatal palliative care group, the GAI group, between May 2015 and September 2016.
Setting/Participants: Families with estimated perinatal mortality >50% and eligibility for follow-up at our tertiary fetal medicine center were enrolled. We included women who participated in at least one family conference with the GAI group and who had given birth at the clinic or delivered at another center and returned for the postnatal family conference.
Results: Fifty women met the inclusion criteria. Five main themes and 18 categories emerged from the charts and are described in detail. A model of follow-up in prenatal palliative care is proposed based on the themes and categories identified.
onclusions: This analysis may guide health professionals who seek to better identify family needs and values and organize follow-up during prenatal palliative care.
Background: Population-based data are presented on the nature of dying in intellectual disability services.
Methods: A retrospective survey was conducted over 18 months with a sample of UK-based intellectual disability service providers that supported over 12,000. Core data were obtained for 222 deaths within this population. For 158 (71%) deaths, respondents returned a supplemented and modified version of VOICES-SF.
Results: The observed death was 12.2 deaths per 1,000 people supported per year, but just over a third deaths had been deaths anticipated by care staff. Mortality patterns, place of usual care and availability of external support exerted considerable influence over outcomes at the end of life.
Conclusion: Death is not a common event in intellectual disability services. A major disadvantage experienced by people with intellectual disabilities was that their deaths were relatively unanticipated. People with intellectual disabilities living in supported living settings, even when their dying was anticipated, experienced poorer outcomes.
Background: French legislation about sedation in palliative medicine evolved in 2016 with the introduction of a right to deep and continuous sedation, maintained until death. The objective was to describe midazolam sedation at the COL (Centre Oscar Lambret [Oscar Lambret Center], French regional center for cancer control), in order to establish a current overview before the final legislative changes.
Methods: Descriptive, retrospective and single-center study, concerning major patients in palliative care hospitalized from 01/01/2014 to 12/31/2015, who had been sedated by midazolam. The proven sedations (explicitly named) and the probable sedations were distinguished.
Results: A total of 54 sedations were identified (48 proven, 6 probable). Refractory symptoms accounted for 48.1% of indications, complications with immediate risk of death 46.3%, existential suffering 5.6%. Titration was performed in 44.4% of cases. Sedation was continuous until death for 98.1% of the cases. Probable sedation had a higher failure rate than proven sedation. Significant differences existed for the palliative care unit compared to other units regarding information to the patient, their consent, anticipation, mention by correspondence and carrying out titrations. When patients had already been treated with midazolam, the induction doses, initial maintenance doses, and doses at the time of death were significantly higher. For those receiving opioids, the maintenance dose at the time of death was higher. No comparison found a difference in overall survival.
Conclusions: After a sufficient follow-up has enabled teams to familiarize with this new legislation, reflection on sedation should be conducted to adapt to final recommendations.
Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an incurable, chronic condition that leads to significant morbidity and mortality, with most patients dying in hospital. While diagnostic tests are important for actively managing patients during hospital admissions, the balance between benefit and harm should always be considered. This is particularly important when patients reach the end-of-life, when the focus is to reduce burdensome interventions. This study aimed to examine the use of diagnostic testing in a cohort of people with COPD who died in hospital.
Methods: Retrospective medical record audits were completed at two Australian hospitals (Royal Melbourne Hospital and Northeast Health Wangaratta), with all patients who died from COPD over twelve years between 1/1/2004 and 31/12/2015 included.
Results: Three hundred and forty-three patients were included, with a median of 11 diagnostic testing episodes per patient. Undergoing higher numbers of diagnostic tests was associated with younger age, ICU admission and non-invasive ventilation use. Reduced testing was associated with recent hospital admission for COPD, domiciliary oxygen use and a prior admission with documentation limiting medical treatment. Most patients underwent diagnostic tests in the last two days of life, and 12% of patients had ongoing diagnostic tests performed after a documented decision was made to change the goal of care to provide comfort care only.
Conclusion: There were missed opportunities to reduce the burden of diagnostic tests and focus on comfort at the end of life. Increased physician education regarding communication and en-of-life care, including recognising active dying may address these issues.
Background: Advance care plans (ACP) provide patients the opportunity to communicate their goals and wishes for future care.
Local problem: A retrospective case note review of 50 inpatient deaths in 2017 confirmed a doctor had discussed expected death in 90%, however only 2% had an ACP.
Methods: Patients appropriate for ACP were identified on a single geriatrics ward. Interventions were implemented with monthly data collection. Patients with an ACP were followed prospectively. The initiatives were subsequently applied across six geriatrics wards.
Interventions: Interventions included improved identification of patients appropriate for ACP, doctor education and improved communication to general practitioners and healthcare providers.
Results: Before initiation of interventions on the pilot ward, ACP was completed for 38% of appropriate patients; this increased to a mean of 78.6% over 4 months post-interventions. During the pilot, 44 patients had an ACP. Of those discharged, 75% avoided readmission over the following 6 months. After applying the interventions across all geriatric wards, ACPs increased to a mean of 81.2% and was maintained 12 months later at 72%.
Conclusions: The initiatives formed a structure to promote the use of ACP on the wards. Care plans focused on individualising care and effective communication resulted in reduction of readmissions.