BACKGROUND: Palliative needs in older patients are often not timely identified. The Surprise Question (SQ) 'would I be surprised if this patient died in the next year?' is a well-researched tool that could aid in this effort. Most studies thus far involved physicians or specialist nurses, however the predictive value of the SQ when used by general nurses caring for hospitalized older patients is unknown.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the predictive value of the SQ when used by general nurses and student nurses, in determining one year mortality in acutely hospitalized older patients.
DESIGN: Observational cohort study with an one year follow-up.
SETTING: One academic and one regional hospital in the Netherlands.
PARTICIPANTS: Patients >=70 years acutely hospitalized for at least 48 hours.
METHODS: Registered nurses and student nurses answered the SQ with 'No' (a positive SQ), 'Yes' or 'Don't know'. Data on student nurses was analysed separately. The sensitivity, specificity, negative- and positive predictive values were calculated. Furthermore, logistic regression was performed to determine the odds of death.
RESULTS: 66 registered nurses answered the SQ for 252 patients of whom 77 (30.6%) died in the year after inclusion. Respectively, 44%, 14% and 22% died within the 'No', 'Yes' and 'Don't know' group. 85% of patients who died during admission or in the first three months post-discharge were identified. The sensitivity and specificity were 76.7% and 56.6%. The positive and negative predictive values were 43.7% and 84.6 %. Compared to persons in whom the SQ was answered with yes, a no answer was associated with an 4.7 times increased odds of dying in the next 12 months (odds ratio 4.71, 95% CI 2.43-9.12, p<0.001). Additionally, 20 student nurses answered the SQ about 73 patients; sensitivity and specificity were 46.7% and 72.1%, with a positive and negative predictive value of 53.8% and 66.0% respectively.
CONCLUSION: The usability of the Surprise Question in predicting 12-month mortality in older acutely admitted patients is limited, due to the high false positive rate. The SQ when used by non-specialized nurses identifies vulnerable patients with an increased mortality risk and can be used as a first step in assessing a patients' palliative needs, but has limited use as a single criterion for referral to specialist palliative care.
Background: Despite increasing evidence of the benefits of early access to palliative care, many patients do not receive palliative care in a timely manner. A systematic approach in primary care can facilitate earlier identification of patients with potential palliative care needs and prompt further assessment.
Aim: To identify existing screening tools for identification of patients with advanced progressive diseases who are likely to have palliative care needs in primary healthcare and evaluate their accuracy.
Design: Systematic review (PROSPERO registration number CRD42019111568).
Data sources: Cochrane, MEDLINE, Embase and CINAHL were searched from inception to March 2019
Results: From 4,127 unique articles screened, 25 reported the use or development of 10 screening tools. Most tools use prediction of death and/or deterioration as a proxy for the identification of people with potential palliative care needs. The tools are based on a wide range of general and disease-specific indicators. The accuracy of five tools was assessed in eight studies; these tools differed significantly in their ability to identify patients with potential palliative care needs with sensitivity ranging from 3% to 94% and specificity ranging from 26% to 99%.
Conclusion: The ability of current screening tools to identify patients with advanced progressive diseases who are likely to have palliative care needs in primary care is limited. Further research is needed to identify standardised screening processes that are based not only on predicting mortality and deterioration but also on anticipating the palliative care needs and predicting the rate and course of functional decline. This would prompt a comprehensive assessment to identify and meet their needs on time.
Background: Access to specialty palliative care delivery in the intensive care unit is inconsistent across institutions. The intensive care unit at the study institution uses a screening tool to identify patients likely to benefit from specialty palliative care, yet little is known about outcomes associated with the use of screening tools.
Objective: To identify outcomes associated with specialty palliative care referral among patients with critical illness.
Methods: Records of 112 patients with positive results on palliative care screening were retrospectively reviewed to compare outcomes between patients who received a specialty palliative care consult and those who did not. Primary outcome measures were length of stay, discharge disposition, and escalation of care.
Results: Sixty-five patients (58%) did not receive a palliative care consult. No significant differences were found in length of hospital or intensive care unit stay. Most patients who experienced mechanical ventilation did not receive a palliative care consultation ( 2 = 5.14, P = .02). Patients who were discharged to home were also less likely to receive a consult ( 2 = 4.1, P = .04), whereas patients who were discharged to hospice were more likely to receive a consult ( 2 = 19.39, P < .001).
Conclusions: Unmet needs exist for specialty palliative care. Understanding the methods of identifying patients for specialty palliative care and providing them with such care is critically important. Future research is needed to elucidate the factors providers use in their decisions to order or defer specialty palliative care consultation.
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.
In the setting of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, new strategies are needed to address the unique and significant palliative care (PC) needs of patients with COVID-19 and their families, particularly when health systems are stressed by patient surges. Many PC teams rely on referral-based consultation methods that can result in needs going unidentified and/or unmet. Here, we describe a novel system to proactively identify and meet the PC needs of all patients with COVID-19 being cared for in our hospital's intensive care units. Patients were screened through a combination of chart review and brief provider interview, and PC consultations were provided via telemedicine for those with unmet needs identified. In the first six weeks of operation, our pilot program of proactive screening and outreach resulted in PC consultation for 12 of the 29 (41%) adult patients admitted to the intensive care unit with COVID-19 at our institution. Consultations were most commonly for patient and family support as well as for goals of care and advance care planning, consistent with identified PC needs within this unique patient population.
Background: Difficulties in identifying patients at risk of clinical deterioration or death represent one of the main barriers to Palliative Care (PC) development in the community. Currently, no specific Italian tools aimed at identifying patients with PC needs are available. Of the different European tools available, the SPICT™ can be used easily in any kind of setting and does not include the Surprise Question. The purpose of the study was to translate, cross-culturally adapt and pre-test the Italian version of the SPICT™.
Methods: The Beaton recommendations for the cross-cultural adaptation of instruments were followed. Content validity was assessed using the Lynn method. A sample of Italian General Practitioners (GPs) assessed the SPICT-IT™ for feasibility and tested it.
Results: During the cross-cultural adaptation, some issues regarding semantic, experiential, idiomatic and conceptual equivalences were raised and resolved. The Scale-Content Validity Index/Ave was 0.86. Of the 907 GPs included in the sample, 71 (7.8%) agreed to test the SPICT-IT™ and to assess its feasibility. The participants provided care for 73,526 people in the community. Of these people, 1.7% (N = 1303) were identified as being in need of PC according to the SPICT-IT™. Sixty-six (93.0%) GPs stated they would use the SPICT-IT™ in their daily clinical practice.
Conclusions: The SPICT-IT™ demonstrated acceptable content validity. The percentage of patients identified through the SPICT-IT™ was comparable to findings from literature. The next phase of this project will investigate the impact of a proactive training programme aimed at supporting GPs in identifying patients with PC needs and delivering appropriate Primary Palliative Care (PPC).
Objective: The ‘surprise question’ (SQ) and the palliative care screening tool (PCST) are the common assessment tools in the early identification of patients requiring palliative care. However, the comparison of their prognostic accuracies has not been extensively studied. This study aimed to compare the prognostic accuracy of SQ and PCST in terms of recognising patients nearing end of life (EOL) and those appropriate for palliative care.
Methods: This prospective study used both the SQ and PCST to predict patients’ 12-month mortality and identified those appropriate for palliative care. All adult patients admitted to Taipei City Hospital in 2015 were included in this cohort study. The c-statistic value was calculated to indicate the predictive accuracies of the SQ and PCST.
Results: Out of 21 109 patients, with a mean age of 62.8 years, 12.4% and 11.1% had a SQ response of ‘no’ and a PCST score of =4, respectively. After controlling for other covariates, an SQ response of ‘no’ and a PCST score of =4 were the independent predictors of 12-month mortality. The c-statistic values of the SQ and PCST at recognising patients in their last year of life were 0.680 and 0.689, respectively. When using a combination of both SQ and PCST in predicting patients’ 12-month mortality risk, the predictive value of the c-statistic increased to 0.739 and was significantly higher than either one in isolation (p<0.001).
Conclusion: A combination of the SQ with PCST has better prognostic accuracy than either one in isolation.
Introduction: The mortality of patients with neck-of-femur (NOF) fractures remains high, with increasing recognition of a subgroup of patients with predictable mortality. The role of palliative care in this group is poorly understood and underdeveloped. This research aims to investigate current clinician attitudes toward palliative care for patients with NOF fracture, and explore processes in place for early identification for patients nearing the end of life.
Materials and Methods: An online survey was constructed with reference to National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence end-of-life guidelines (CG13) and distributed to multidisciplinary teams involved in the care of NOF fracture patients in 4 hospitals of contrasting size and location in the United Kingdom.
Results: Forty health-care professionals with a broad range of seniority and roles responded. The palliative care team was felt to have several potential roles in the care of NOF fracture patients, but there was difference of opinion between specialties about what these were. A number of barriers to palliative referral were identified, including stigma and active surgical management. The majority (75%) felt that all NOF fracture patients should have a discussion about ceiling of care, with difference of opinion about who should do so, and when.
Discussion: As the elderly population has grown, so too has the volume of NOF fracture patients. It is increasingly important to identify and escalate patients who have poor prognosis following hip fracture and ensure they benefit from palliative care where appropriate. This survey demonstrates a barrier to addressing the care of these patients and a lack of consensus on identification and referral to appropriate palliative care planning.
Conclusions: There should be close communication between specialties with regard to requirements for palliative care in NOF fracture patients, with ongoing education and clear local and national guidance to ensure they receive the right care at the right time.
Context: The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading across the world. Many patients will not be suitable for mechanical ventilation owing to the underlying health conditions, and they will require a conservative approach including palliative care management for their important symptom burden.
Objectives: To develop a management plan for patients who are not suitable for mechanical ventilation that is tailored to the stage their COVID-19 disease.
Methods: Patients were identified as being stable, unstable, or at the end of life using the early warning parameters for COVID-19. Furthermore, a COVID-19–specific assessment tool was developed locally, focusing on key symptoms observed in this population which assess dyspnoea, distress, and discomfort. This tool helped to guide the palliative care management as per patients' disease stage.
Results: A management plan for all patients' (stable, unstable, end of life) was created and implemented in acute hospitals. Medication guidelines were based on the limitations in resources and availability of drugs. Staff members who were unfamiliar with palliative care required simple, clear instructions to follow including medications for key symptoms such as dyspnoea, distress, fever, and discomfort. Nursing interventions and family involvement were adapted as per patients' disease stage and infection control requirements.
Conclusion: Palliative care during the COVID-19 pandemic needs to adapt to an emergency style of palliative care as patients can deteriorate rapidly and require quick decisions and clear treatment plans. These need to be easily followed up by generalist staff members caring for these patients. Furthermore, palliative care should be at the forefront to help make the best decisions, give care to families, and offer spiritual support.
Background: General practitioners’ (GPs) play a central role in facilitating end-of-life discussions with older patients nearing the end-of-life. However, prognostic uncertainty of time to death is one important barrier to initiation of these discussions.
Objective: To explore GPs’ perceptions of the feasibility and acceptability of a risk prediction checklist to identify older patients in their last 12 months of life and describe perceived barriers and facilitators for implementing end-of-life planning.
Methods: Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 GPs practising in metropolitan locations in New South Wales and Queensland between May and June 2019. Data were analysed thematically.
Results: Eight themes emerged: accessibility and implementation of the checklist, uncertainty around checklist’s accuracy and usefulness, time of the checklist, checklist as a potential prompt for end-of-life conversations, end-of-life conversations not an easy topic, end-of-life conversation requires time and effort, uncertainty in identifying end-of-life patients and limited community literacy on end-of-life. Most participants welcomed a risk prediction checklist in routine practice if assured of its accuracy in identifying which patients were nearing end-of-life.
Conclusions: Most participating GPs saw the value in risk assessment and end-of-life planning. Many emphasized the need for appropriate support, tools and funding for prognostic screening and end-of-life planning for this to become routine in general practice. Well validated risk prediction tools are needed to increase clinician confidence in identifying risk of death to support end-of-life care planning.
La souffrance est une entité universelle, multidimensionnelle, mais aussi unique et personnelle, paradoxalement sous-diagnostiquée, alors qu’elle est omniprésente dans notre pratique en milieu hospitalier. Le but de cet article est de proposer au lecteur quelques pistes pour l’exploration et l’identification de la souffrance des proches de patients en situation palliative, et surtout quelques outils d’accompagnement et de soutien.
Context: The COVID-19 pandemic created a rapid and unprecedented shift in our medical system. Medical providers, teams, and organizations have needed to shift their visits away from face-to-face visits and toward telehealth (both by phone and through video). Palliative care teams who practice in the community setting are faced with a difficult task: How do we actively triage the most urgent visits while keeping our vulnerable patients safe from the pandemic?
Measures: The following are recommendations created by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Palliative Care and Support Services team to help triage and coordinate for timely, safe, and effective palliative care in the community and outpatient setting during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Patients are initially triaged based on location followed by acuity. Interdisciplinary care is implemented using strict infection control guidelines in the setting of limited personal protective equipment (PPE) resources. We implement thorough screening for COVID-19 symptoms at multiple levels before a patient is seen by a designated provider.
Conclusions/Lessons Learned: We recommend active triaging, communication, frequent screening for COVID-19 symptoms for palliative care patients been evaluated in the community setting. An understanding of infection risk, mutual consent between designated providers, patients, and their families are crucial to maintaining safety while delivering community-based palliative care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to severe shortages of many essential goods and services, from hand sanitizers and N-95 masks to ICU beds and ventilators. Although rationing is not unprecedented, never before has the American public been faced with the prospect of having to ration medical goods and services on this scale.
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PURPOSE: This study evaluates whether an intervention to identify Canadian patients eligible for a palliative approach changes the use of health care resources and costs within the final month of life.
METHODS: Between 2014 and 2017, physicians identified 1,187 patients in family practice units and cancer centers who were likely to die within 1 year based on diagnosis, symptom assessment, and performance status. A multidisciplinary intervention that included activation of community resources and initiation of palliative planning was started. By using propensity-score matching, patients in the intervention group were matched 1:1 with nonintervention controls selected from provincial administrative data. We compared health care use and costs (using 2017 Canadian dollars) for 30 days before death between patients who died within the 1-year follow-up and matched controls.
RESULTS: Groups (n = 629 in each group) were well-balanced in sociodemographic characteristics, comorbidities, and previous health care use. In the last 30 days, there was no differences in proportions between the two groups of patients regarding emergency department visits, intensive care unit admissions, or inpatient hospitalizations. However, patients in the intervention group had greater use of palliative physician encounters, community home care visits, and/or physician home visits (92.8% v 88.4%; P = .007). In the 507 pairs with cancer, more patients in the intervention group underwent chemotherapy (44% v 33%; P < .001) and radiation (18.7% v 3.2%; P = .043) in the last 30 days. Mean cost per patient was similar for the intervention group (mean, $17,231; 95% CI, $16,027 to $18,436) and for the control group (mean, $16,951; 95% CI, $15,899 to $18,004).
CONCLUSION: Even with the limitations in our observational study design, identification of palliative patients did not significantly change overall costs but may shift resources toward palliative services.
BACKGROUND: Key Information Summaries (KIS) were introduced throughout Scotland in 2013 so that anticipatory care plans written by general practitioners (GPs) could be routinely shared electronically and updated in real time, between GPs and providers of unscheduled and secondary care.
AIMS: We aimed to describe the current reach of anticipatory and palliative care, and to explore GPs' views on using KIS.
METHODS: We studied the primary care records of all patients who died in 2014 in 9 diverse Lothian practices. We identified if anticipatory or palliative care had been started, and if so how many weeks before death and which aspects of care had been documented. We interviewed 10 GPs to understand barriers and facilitating factors.
RESULTS: Overall, 60% of patients were identified for a KIS, a median of 18 }weeks before death. The numbers identified were highest for patients with cancer, with 75% identified compared with 66% of those dying with dementia/frailty and only 41% dying from organ failure. Patients were more likely to die outside hospital if they had a KIS. GPs identified professional, patient and societal challenges in identifying patients for palliative care, especially those with non-cancer diagnoses.
CONCLUSIONS: GPs are identifying patients for anticipatory and palliative care more equitably across the different disease trajectories and earlier in the disease process than they were previously identifying patients specifically for palliative care. However, many patients still lack care planning, particularly those dying with organ failure.
Background: The “END-of-Life ScorING-System” (ENDING-S) was previously developed to identify patients at high-risk of dying in the ICU and to facilitate a practical integration between palliative and intensive care. The aim of this study is to prospectively validate ENDING-S in a cohort of long-term critical care patients.
Materials and methods: Adult long-term ICU patients (with a length-of-stay> 4 days) were considered for this prospective multicenter observational study. ENDING-S and SOFA score were calculated daily and evaluated against the patient’s ICU outcome. The predictive properties were evaluated through a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis.
Results: Two hundred twenty patients were enrolled for this study. Among these, 21.46% died during the ICU stay. ENDING-S correctly predicted the ICU outcome in 71.4% of patients. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values associated with the previously identified ENDING-S cut-off of 11.5 were 68.1, 72.3, 60 and 89.3%, respectively. ROC-AUC for outcome prediction was 0.79 for ENDING-S and 0.88 for SOFA in this cohort.
Conclusions: ENDING-S, while not as accurately as in the pilot study, demonstrated acceptable discrimination properties in identifying long-term ICU patients at very high-risk of dying. ENDING-S may be a useful tool aimed at facilitating a practical integration between palliative, end-of-life and intensive care.
Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT02875912; First registration August 4, 2016.
INTRODUCTION: In observational studies with mortality endpoints, one needs to consider how to account for subjects whose interventions appear to be part of 'end-of-life' care.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to develop a diagnostic predictive model to identify those in end-of-life care at the time of a drug exposure.
METHODS: We used data from four administrative claims datasets from 2000 to 2017. The index date was the date of the first prescription for the last new drug subjects received during their observation period. The outcome of end-of-life care was determined by the presence of one or more codes indicating terminal or hospice care. Models were developed using regularized logistic regression. Internal validation was through examination of the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) and through model calibration in a 25% subset of the data held back from model training. External validation was through examination of the AUC after applying the model learned on one dataset to the three other datasets.
RESULTS: The models showed excellent performance characteristics. Internal validation resulted in AUCs ranging from 0.918 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.905-0.930) to 0.983 (95% CI 0.978-0.987) for the four different datasets. Calibration results were also very good, with slopes near unity. External validation also produced very good to excellent performance metrics, with AUCs ranging from 0.840 (95% CI 0.834-0.846) to 0.956 (95% CI 0.952-0.960).
CONCLUSION: These results show that developing diagnostic predictive models for determining subjects in end-of-life care at the time of a drug treatment is possible and may improve the validity of the risk profile for those treatments.
New approaches are needed to assist residential aged care (RAC) staff increase their skills and confidence in identifying when residents are nearing the dying phase and managing symptoms. One new evidence-based approach to improve palliative and end-of-life care in RAC is outreach Specialist Palliative Care Needs Rounds (monthly triage and risk stratification meetings – hereafter Needs Rounds); as yet untried in rural settings which may face unique enablers or challenges. Needs Rounds were introduced into two RAC facilities in the rural Snowy Monaro region of New South Wales, Australia. This study explored staff and general practitioners’(GPs’) experiences and perceptions of palliative and end-of-life care in rural RAC, and staff confidence and capability in providing such care, prior to, and after the introduction of Needs Rounds. A mixed-methods, pre- and post-intervention approach was taken, utilizing a Likert-scale written questionnaire and face-to-face semi-structured interviews. Between March and November 2018, 61 questionnaires were completed by 48 RAC staff (33 pre-, 28 post-intervention); eight staff and three GPs were interviewed. Despite system and site-specific barriers, staff self-reported that Needs Rounds increased their capability in providing end-of-life care (p = 0.04; 95% CI 0.20–7.66), and improved staff: (1) awareness of end of life, reflective practice, and critical thinking; (2) end-of-life decision making and planning; and (3) pain management. Needs Rounds are acceptable and feasible in rural RAC. Palliative and end-of-life care for residents may be improved through education, collaboration, communication, and planning. Further studies should explore running Needs Rounds via telehealth and/or utilizing a multidisciplinary approach.
Background: early identification of palliative patients is challenging. The Surprise Question (SQ1; Would I be surprised if this patient were to die within 12 months?) is widely used to identify palliative patients. However, its predictive value is low. Therefore, we added a second question (SQ2) to SQ1: ‘Would I be surprised if this patient is still alive after 12 months?’ We studied the accuracy of this double surprise question (DSQ) in a general practice.
Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study with retrospective medical record review in a general practice in the eastern part of the Netherlands. Two general practitioners (GPs) answered both questions for all 292 patients aged =75 years (mean age 84 years).
Primary outcome was 1-year death, secondary outcomes were aspects of palliative care.
Results: SQ1 was answered with ‘no‘ for 161/292 patients. Of these, SQ2 was answered with ‘yes’ in 22 patients. Within 12 months 26 patients died, of whom 24 had been identified with SQ1 (sensitivity: 92%, specificity: 49%). Ten of them were also identified with SQ2 (sensitivity: 42%, specificity: 91%). The latter group had more contacts with their GP and more palliative care aspects were discussed.
Conclusions: The DSQ appears a feasible and easy applicable screening tool in general practice. It is highly effective in predicting patients in high need for palliative care and using it helps to discriminate between patients with different life expectancies and palliative care needs. Further research is necessary to confirm the findings of this study.