Background: African Americans receive more aggressive end-of-life care than Whites. Little is known about how palliative care consultation to discuss goals-of-care (“PCC”) is associated with acute care utilization and costs by race.
Objective: To compare future acute care costs and utilization between propensity-matched cohorts of African Americans with and without PCC, and Whites with and without PCC.
Design: Secondary analysis of a retrospective cohort study.
Setting/Subjects: Thirty-five thousand one hundred and fifty-four African Americans and Whites age 18+ admitted for conditions other than childbirth or rehabilitation, who were not hospitalized at the end of the study, and did not die during index hospitalization (hospitalization during which the first PCC occurred).
Measurements: Accumulated mean acute care costs and utilization (30-day readmissions, future hospital days, future intensive care unit [ICU] admission, future number of ICU days) after discharge from index hospitalization.
Results: No significant difference between African Americans with or without PCC in mean future acute care costs ($11,651 vs. $15,050, p = 0.09), 30-day readmissions (p = 0.58), future hospital days (p = 0.34), future ICU admission (p = 0.25), or future ICU days (p = 0.30). There were significant differences between Whites with PCC and those without PCC in mean future acute care costs ($8,095 vs. $16,799, p < 0.001), 30-day readmissions (10.2% vs. 16.7%, p < 0.0001), and future days hospitalized (3.7 vs. 6.3 days, p < 0.0001).
onclusions: PCC decreases future acute care costs and utilization in Whites and, directionally but not significantly, in African Americans. Research is needed to explain why utilization and cost disparities persist among African Americans despite PCC.
BACKGROUND: Despite improvements in palliative care for critically ill children, the characteristics of end-of-life care for pediatric patients with advanced heart disease are not well-known. We investigated these characteristics among hospitalized children with advanced heart disease in a tertiary referral center in Korea.
METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the records of 136 patients with advanced heart disease who died in our pediatric department from January 2006 through December 2013.
RESULTS: The median age of patients at death was 10.0 months (range 1 day-28.3 years). The median duration of the final hospitalization was 16.5 days (range 1-690 days). Most patients (94.1%) died in the intensive care unit and had received mechanical ventilation (89.7%) and inotropic agents (91.2%) within 24 hours of death. The parents of 74 patients (54.4%) had an end-of-life care discussion with their physician, and the length of stay of these patients in the intensive care unit and in hospital was longer. Of the 90 patients who had been hospitalized for 7 days or more, the parents of 54 patients (60%) had a documented end-of-life care discussion. The time interval from the end-of-life care discussion to death was 3 days or less for 25 patients.
CONCLUSION: Children dying of advanced heart disease receive intensive treatment at the end of life. Discussions regarding end-of-life issues are often postponed until immediately prior to death. A pediatric palliative care program must be implemented to improve the quality of death in pediatric patients with heart disease.
BACKGROUND: We aim to describe the access to palliative care (PC) in hospitalized children during end-of-life care and compare the circumstances surrounding the deaths of hospitalized children as a basis for implementing a pediatric PC program at our institution.
METHODS: We performed a retrospective chart review of deceased pediatric patients at a tertiary referral hospital in Colombia. The study group was selected by randomly drawing a sample of 100 observations from the 737 deceased children from 2013 to 2016. A 1:1 propensity score (PS) matching was performed to compare the characteristics and outcomes between PC and non-PC treated patients.
RESULTS: We included 87 patients. After PS matching, we found that patients under the care of non-PC physicians were more likely to die in the pediatric intensive care unit (non-PC: 6/10 vs PC: 1/10; P = .02), to be on vasopressor agents and mechanical ventilation (non-PC: 7/10 vs PC: 1/10; P = .02), and to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation at the end of life (non-PC: 5/10 vs PC: 0/10; P = .03). In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of patients under the care of the pediatric PC team died with comfort measures (non-PC: 2/10 vs 8/10; P = .02) and nonescalation of care in physician orders (non-PC: 5/10 vs PC: 10/10; 0.03).
CONCLUSION: In this study, only 10 of 87 patients were treated by the pediatric PC team at the end of life. The latter finding is concerning and is a call to action to improve access to pediatric PC at our institution.
Background: factors associated with place of death inform policies with respect to allocating end-of-life care resources and tailoring supportive measures.
Objective: To determine factors associated with non-hospital deaths among cancer patients.
Design: Retrospective cohort study of cancer decedents, examining factors associated with non-hospital deaths using multinomial logistic regression with hospital deaths as the reference category.
Setting/subjects: Cancer patients (n = 15254) in Singapore who died during the study period from January 1, 2012 till December 31, 2105 at home, acute hospital, long-term care (LTC) or hospice were included.
Results: Increasing age (categories =65 years: RRR 1.25–2.61), female (RRR 1.40; 95% CI 1.28–1.52), Malays (RRR 1.67; 95% CI 1.47–1.89), Brain malignancy (RRR 1.92; 95% CI 1.15–3.23), metastatic disease (RRR 1.33–2.01) and home palliative care (RRR 2.11; 95% CI 1.95–2.29) were associated with higher risk of home deaths. Patients with low socioeconomic status were more likely to have hospice or LTC deaths: those living in smaller housing types had higher risk of dying in hospice (1–4 rooms apartment: RRR 1.13–3.17) or LTC (1–5 rooms apartment: RRR 1.36–4.11); and those with Medifund usage had higher risk of dying in LTC (RRR 1.74; 95% CI 1.36–2.21). Patients with haematological malignancies had increased risk of dying in hospital (categories of haematological subtypes: RRR 0.06–0.87).
Conclusions: We found key sociodemographic and clinical factors associated with non-hospital deaths in cancer patients. More can be done to enable patients to die in the community and with dignity rather than in a hospital.
Background: In order to avoid unnecessary use of hospital services at the end-of-life, palliative care should be initiated early enough in order to have sufficient time to initiate and carry out good quality advance care planning (ACP). This single center study assesses the impact of the PC decision and its timing on the use of hospital services at EOL and the place of death.
Methods: A randomly chosen cohort of 992 cancer patients treated in a tertiary hospital between Jan 2013 –Dec 2014, who were deceased by the end of 2014, were selected from the total number of 2737 identified from the hospital database. The PC decision (the decision to terminate life-prolonging anticancer treatments and focus on symptom centered palliative care) and use of PC unit services were studied in relation to emergency department (ED) visits, hospital inpatient days and place of death.
Results: A PC decision was defined for 82% of the patients and 37% visited a PC unit. The earlier the PC decision was made, the more often patients had an appointment at the PC unit (> 180 days prior to death 72% and < 14 days 10%). The number of ED visits and inpatient days were highest for patients with no PC decision and lowest for patients with both a PC decision and an PC unit appointment (60 days before death ED visits 1.3 vs 0.8 and inpatient days 9.9 vs 2.9 respectively, p < 0.01). Patients with no PC decision died more often in secondary/tertiary hospitals (28% vs. 19% with a PC decision, and 6% with a decision and an appointment to a PC unit).
Conclusions: The PC decision to initiate a palliative goal for the treatment had a distinct impact on the use of hospital services at the EOL. Contact with a PC unit further increased the likelihood of EOL care at primary care.
Background: The relationship between clinical course and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) status has not been well studied in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) setting.
Objective: To describe the relationship between DNR order placement and clinical course.
Design: Single center retrospective cohort study.
Setting/Subjects: Patients, ages 0–18 years, who have died in the PICU from 2008 to 2016.
Measurements: Retrospective chart review of DNR status, patient characteristics, and clinical course. We compared length of stay and number of consults/procedures/imaging studies done on patients with early DNR (>48 hours before death), late DNR (within 48 hours of death), and no DNR order placement.
Results: One-hundred and sixty-one children were included. Nearly half (48%) were male with median (interquartile range) age of 3 years (0–12). One-third (58) had an underlying oncologic diagnosis. Eighteen percent (29/161) were classified as early DNR, 33% (53/161) as late DNR, and 49% (79/161) as no DNR. We found no differences in patient characteristics or risk of mortality at admission among the groups. The early DNR group showed decreased number of invasive procedures (0.68), imaging studies (1), and consults (0.21) per day when compared with the late (2, 1.53, 0.50) and no DNR groups (2.09, 1.73, 0.43).
Conclusion: Our results suggest that early DNR placement in the PICU is associated with a change in clinical course centered around less invasive care. Earlier DNR placement can potentially trigger a shift in care goals that could improve the quality of life for patients and mitigate emotional and physical toll on patients and their families during the highly stressful end-of-life time period.
BACKGROUND: Little is known about the characteristics of patients needing palliative care consultation in the ED. This study aimed to investigate the impacts of initiating screening in acute critically ill patients needing palliative care on mortality, healthcare resources, and end-of-life care (EOL) in the intensive care unit in ED (EICU).
METHODS: We conducted an analysis study in Taipei Veterans General Hospital. From February 1 to July 31, 2018, acute critically ill patients in EICU were recruited. The primary outcomes were inhospital mortality and EOL care. The secondary outcomes included clinical characteristics and healthcare utilization.
RESULTS: A total of 796 patients were screened, with 396 eligible and 400 non-eligible patients needing palliative care consultations. The mean age was 74.8 ± 17.1 years, and 62.6% of the patients were male. According to logistic regression analysis, clinical predictors, including age (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.028; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.015-1.042), respiratory distress and/or respiratory failure (AOR, 2.670; 95% CI, 1.829-3.897), the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score (AOR, 1.036; 95% CI, 1.009-1.064), Charlson Comorbidity Index score (AOR, 1.212; 95% CI, 1.125-1.306), and Glasgow Coma Scale (AOR, 0.843; 95% CI, 0.802-0.885), were statistically more significant in eligible patients than in non-eligible patients. The inhospital mortality rate was significantly higher in eligible patients than that in non-eligible patients (40.7% vs. 11.5%, p < 0.01). Eligible patients have a higher ratio in both vasopressor and narcotic use and withdrawal of endotracheal tube than non-eligible patients (p < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Our study results demonstrated that initiating palliative consultation for acute critically ill patients in ED had an impact on the utilization of healthcare resources and quality of EOL care. Further assessments of the viewpoints of ED patients and their family regarding palliative care consultations and hospice care are required.
BACKGROUND: Ethnicity may be associated with important aspects of end-of-life care, such as what treatments are received, access to palliative care and where people die. However, most studies have focused on end-of-life care of white, Hispanic and black patients. We sought to compare end-of-life care delivered to people of Chinese and South Asian ethnicity with that delivered to others from the general population, in Ontario, Canada.
METHODS: In this population-based cohort study, we included all people who died in Ontario, Canada, between Apr. 1, 2004, and Mar. 31, 2015. People were identified as having Chinese or South Asian ethnicity on the basis of a validated surname algorithm. We used modified Poisson regression analyses to assess location of death and care received in the last 6 months of life.
RESULTS: We analyzed 967 339 decedents, including 18 959 (2.0%) of Chinese and 11 406 (1.2%) of South Asian ethnicity. Chinese (13.6%) and South Asian (18.5%) decedents were more likely than decedents from the general population (10.1%) to die in the intensive care unit (ICU). The adjusted relative risk of dying in intensive care was 1.21 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.15 to 1.27) for Chinese and 1.25 (95% CI 1.20 to 1.30) for South Asian decedents. In their last 6 months of life, decedents of Chinese and South Asian ethnicity experienced significantly more ICU admission, hospital admission, mechanical ventilation, dialysis, percutaneous feeding tube placement, tracheostomy and cardiopulmonary resuscitation than the general population.
INTERPRETATION: Decedents of Chinese and South Asian ethnicity in Ontario were more likely than decedents from the general population to receive aggressive care and to die in an ICU. These findings may be due to communication difficulties between patients and clinicians, differences in preferences about end-of-life care or differences in access to palliative care services.
Background: Multiple chronic conditions (MCCs) are associated with increased intensity of end-of-life (EOL) care, but their effect is not well explored in patients with cancer.
Objective: we examined EOL health care intensity and advance care planning (ACP) documentation to better understand the association between MCCs and these outcomes.
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting/Subjects: Patients aged 18+ years at UW Medicine who died during 2010-2017 with poor prognosis cancer, with or without chronic liver disease, chronic pulmonary disease, coronary artery disease, dementia, diabetes with end-stage organ damage, end-stage renal disease, heart failure, or peripheral vascular disease.
Measurements: ACP documentation 30+ days before death, in-hospital death, and inpatient or intensive care unit (ICU) admission in the last 30 days. We performed logistic regression for outcomes.
Results: Of 15,092 patients with cancer, 10,596 (70%) had 1+ MCCs (range 1-8). Patients with cancer and heart failure had highest odds of hospitalization (odds ratio [OR] 1.67, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.46-1.91), ICU admission (OR 2.06, 95% CI 1.76-2.41), or in-hospital death (OR 1.62, 95% CI 1.43-1.84) versus patients with cancer and other conditions. Patients with ACP 30+ days before death had lower odds of in-hospital death (OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.60-0.71), hospitalization (OR 0.67, 95% CI 0.61-0.74), or ICU admission (OR 0.71, 95% CI 0.64-0.80).
Conclusions: Patients with ACP 30+ days before death had lower odds of high-intensity EOL care. Further research needs to explore how to best use ACP to ensure patients receive care aligned with patient and family goals for care.
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.
PURPOSE: The median overall survival (OS) for metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (mPDAC) is < 1 year. Factors that contribute to quality of life during treatment are critical to quantify. One factor-time spent obtaining clinical services-is understudied. We quantified total outpatient time among patients with mPDAC receiving palliative systemic chemotherapy.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective analysis using four patient-level time measures calculated from the medical record of patients with mPDAC receiving 5-fluorouracil infusion, leucovorin, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan; gemcitabine/nab-paclitaxel; or gemcitabine within the University of Pennsylvania Health System between January 1, 2011 and January 15, 2019. These included the total number of health care encounter days (any day with at least one visit) and total visit time. Total visit time represented the time spent receiving care (care time) plus time spent commuting and waiting for care (noncare time). We performed descriptive statistics on these outpatient time metrics and compared the number of encounter days to OS.
RESULTS: A total of 362 patients were identified (median age, 65 years; 52% male; 78% white; 62% received gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel). Median OS was 230.5 days (7.6 months), with 79% of patients deceased at the end of follow-up. On average, patients had 22 health care encounter days, accounting for 10% of their total days survived. Median visit time was 4.6 hours, of which 2.5 hours was spent commuting or waiting for care.
CONCLUSION: On average, patients receiving palliative chemotherapy for mPDAC spend 10% of survival time on outpatient health care. More than half of this time is spent commuting and waiting for care. These findings provide an important snapshot of the patient experience during ambulatory care, and efforts to enhance efficiency of care delivery may be warranted.
OBJECTIVE: To document (using available data) the profile of the patients seen by the hospital's palliative service (PS) and who died in the medicine intensive care unit (ICU) of the Veterans Affairs Caribbean Healthcare System.
METHODS: A record review of subjects who died in the ICU from January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2014. Demographic data, underlying comorbidities, the cause of death, the length of stay, evaluation made by the PS, and the withdrawal of life support (when such occurred) were recorded for each patient.
RESULTS: A total of 200 patients met the criteria, mostly males. All the women and 50% of the men were over 79 years old. Seventy three percent of the patients were on mechanical ventilation when admitted, most having come from the emergency department. Fewer than 15% had advance directives. Forty-nine percent had been admitted to a hospital facility at least once during the year prior to their current admission. Most of the patients (60.5%) died within the first week, while 13% died within the first 24 hours. PS was requested for 56% of those who survived more than 24 hours, of which only 10% underwent the withdrawal-of-care protocol.
CONCLUSION: A small percentage of the patients who died in the ICU had advance directives at the time of admission, this though all were of advanced age, had recently been discharged after a prior hospital stay, suffered from 1 or more chronic illnesses, or had a history of mental or physical disease. Our findings underscore the need for the early referral of patients of the type previously mentioned to a PS.
Importance: Despite a growing recognition of the increased mortality risk among sepsis survivors, little is known about the patterns of end-of-life care among this population.
Objective: To describe patterns of end-of-life care among a national sample of sepsis survivors and identify factors associated with long-term mortality risk and hospice use.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study assessed sepsis survivors who were Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries discharged to home health care using national Medicare administrative, claims, and home health assessment data from 2013 to 2014. The initial and final primary analyses were conducted in July 2017 and from July to August 2019, respectively.
Exposures: Sepsis hospital discharge and 1 or more home health assessments within 1 week.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Outcomes were 1-year mortality among all sepsis survivors and hospitalization in the last 30 days of life, death in an acute care hospital, and hospice use among decedents. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with 1-year mortality and hospice use.
Results: Among 87 581 sepsis survivors who were Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries discharged to home health care, 49 323 (56.3%) were aged 75 years or older, 69 499 (79.4%) were non-Hispanic white, and 48 472 (55.3%) were female. Among the total survivors, 24 423 (27.9%) people died within 1 year of discharge, with a median (interquartile range) survival time of 119 (51-220) days. Among these decedents, 16 684 (68.2%) were hospitalized in the last 30 days of life, 6560 (26.8%) died in an acute care hospital, and 12 573 (51.4%) were enrolled in hospice, with 5729 (45.6%) using hospice for 7 or fewer days. Several factors were associated with 1-year mortality, including a cancer diagnosis (odds ratio [OR], 3.66; 95% CI, 3.50-3.83; P < .001), multiple dependencies of activities of daily living or instrumental activities of daily living (OR, 2.80; 95% CI, 2.57-3.05; P < .001), and an overall poor health status (OR, 2.21; 95% CI, 2.01-2.44; P < .001) documented on home health assessment. Among the decedents, cancer was associated with hospice use (OR, 2.25; 95% CI, 2.11-2.41; P < .001), patients aged 85 years or older (OR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.37-1.61; P < .001), and living in an assisted living setting (OR, 1.93; 95% CI, 1.69-2.19; P < .001).
Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this study suggest that death within 1 year after sepsis discharge may be common among Medicare beneficiaries discharged to home health care. Although 1 in 2 decedents used hospice, aggressive care near the end of life and late hospice referral were common. Readily identifiable risk factors suggest opportunities to target efforts to improve palliative and end-of-life care among high-risk sepsis survivors.
PURPOSE: To determine whether the type of delivery system is associated with intensity of care at the end of life for Medicare beneficiaries with cancer.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: We used SEER registry data linked with Medicare claims to evaluate intensity of end-of-life care for patients who died of one of ten common cancers diagnosed from 2009 through 2014. Patients were categorized as receiving the majority of their care in an integrated delivery system, designated cancer center, health system that was both integrated and a certified cancer center, or health system that was neither. We evaluated adherence to seven nationally endorsed end-of-life quality measures using generalized linear models across four delivery system types.
RESULTS: Among 100,549 beneficiaries who died of cancer during the study interval, we identified only modest differences in intensity of end-of-life care across delivery system structures. Health systems with no cancer center or integrated affiliation demonstrated higher proportions of patients with multiple hospitalizations in the last 30 days of life (11.3%), death in an acute care setting (25.9%), and lack of hospice use in the last year of life (31.6%; all P < .001). Patients enrolled in hospice had lower intensity care across multiple end-of-life quality measures.
CONCLUSION: Intensity of care at the end of life for patients with cancer was higher at delivery systems with no integration or cancer focus. Maximal supportive care delivered through hospice may be one avenue to reduce high-intensity care at the end of life and may impact quality of care for patients dying from cancer.
BACKGROUND: Increasing life expectancy for people with an intellectual disability (ID) is resulting in more persons with cancer and a greater need for end-of-life (EoL) care. There is a need for knowledge of health care utilisation over the last year of life to plan for resources that support a high quality of care for cancer patients with ID. Therefore, the aims of the study were to compare (1) health care utilisation during the last year of life among cancer patients with ID and cancer patients without ID and (2) the place of death in these two groups.
METHODS: The populations were defined using national data from the period 2002-2015, one with ID (n = 15 319) and one matched 5:1 from the general population (n = 72 511). Cancer was identified in the Cause of Death Register, resulting in two study cohorts with 775 cancer patients with ID (ID cohort) and 2968 cancer patients from the general population (gPop cohort).
RESULTS: Cancer patients with ID were less likely than those without ID to have at least one visit in specialist inpatient (relative risk 0.90, 95% confidence interval 0.87-0.93) and outpatient (0.88, 0.85-0.91) health care, during their last year of life. Those with ID were more likely to have no or fewer return visits than the patients in the gPop cohort (5 vs. 11, P < 0.001), also when stratifying on sex and median age at death. Most cancer patients with ID died in group homes or in their own homes and fewer in hospital (31%) as compared with cancer patients in the gPop cohort (55%, 0.57, 0.51-0.64).
CONCLUSIONS: Older cancer patients with ID were less likely to be assessed or treated by a specialist. This may suggest that people with ID have unaddressed or untreated distressing symptoms, which strongly contributes to a decreased quality of EoL care and a poor quality of life. There is a need to acquire further knowledge of the EoL care and to focus on adapting and evaluating quality indicators for older cancer patients with ID.
Paediatric palliative care (PPC) is regarded as standard care for children and young people (CYP) with life-limiting conditions (LLCs). There is a lack of knowledge about the rate of CYP with LLCs, hampering the development of PPC. This retrospective study aimed to examine population-based statistics of South Korean CYP with LLCs and the pattern of healthcare use and costs in their last year of life, analysing the National Health Insurance Service claims database for the period 2013–2015. In 2015, the number of CYP (=24 years old) living with LLCs was 133,177, with those who died accounting for 1,032. Prevalence of LLC and mortality rate per 100,000 were highest among under-1-age group (2,151.7 and 82.7, respectively). In the last year of life, 91.8% of deceased CYP with LLCs were hospitalized at least once and the average length of stay was 101.2 days (standard deviation = 104.1). Deceased CYP with cancer spent more on healthcare than non-cancer CYP (64,266 vs. 40,694 US dollar, p < 0.001). The average relevance index for CYP death related to LLCs was 55.9%. Our results provide baseline information on healthcare utilization and expenditure among CYP with LLCs, which is crucial data for designing evidence-based PPC policy and services.
BACKGROUND: Hospice care has a positive effect on medical costs. The correlation between survival time after receiving hospice care and medical costs has not been previously investigated in the literature on Taiwan. This study aimed to compare the differences in medical costs between traditional care and hospice care among end-of-life patients with cancer.
METHODS: Data from Taiwan's National Health Insurance program on all patients who had passed away between 2010 and 2013 were used. Those whose year of death was between 2010 and 2013 were defined as end-of-life patients. The patients were divided into two groups: traditional care and hospice care. We then analyzed the differences in end-of-life medical cost between the two groups.
RESULTS: From 2010 to 2013, the proportion of patients receiving hospice care significantly increased from 22.2% to 41.30%. In the hospice group, compared with the traditional group, the proportions of hospital stays over 14 days and deaths in a hospital were significantly higher, but the proportions of outpatient clinic visits; emergency room admissions; intensive care unit admissions; use of ventilator; use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation; and use of hemodialysis, surgery, and chemotherapy were significantly lower. Total medical costs were significantly lower. A greater number of days of survival for end-of-life patients when receiving hospice care results in higher saved medical costs.
CONCLUSION: Hospice care can effectively save a large amount of end-of-life medical costs, and more medical costs are saved when patients are referred to hospice care earlier.
OBJECTIVES: Dementia is a progressive incurable life-limiting illness. Previous research suggests end-of-life care for people with dementia should have a symptomatic focus with an effort to avoid burdensome interventions that would not improve quality of life. This study aims to assess the appropriateness of end-of-life care in people who died with dementia in Belgium and to establish relative performance standards by measuring validated population-level quality indicators.
DESIGN: We conducted a retrospective observational study.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: We included all persons deceased with dementia in 2015 in Belgium. Data from 8 administratively collected population-level databases was linked.
MEASURES: We used a validated set of 28 quality indicators for end-of-life dementia care. We compared quality indicator scores across 14 healthcare regions to establish relative benchmarks.
RESULTS: In Belgium in 2015, 10,629 people died with dementia. For indicators of appropriate end-of-life care, people who died with dementia had on average 1.83 contacts with their family physician in the last week before death, whereas 68.4% died at home or in their nursing home of residence. For indicators of inappropriate end-of-life care, 32.4% were admitted to the hospital and 36.3% underwent diagnostic testing in the last 30 days before death, whereas 25.1% died in the hospital. In the last 30 days, emergency department admission varied between 19% and 31%, dispensing of gastric protectors between 18% and 42%, and antihypertensives between 40% and 53% between healthcare regions, with at least 25% of health regions below 46%.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Our study found indications of appropriate as well as inappropriate end-of-life care in people with dementia, including high rates of family physician contact, as well as high percentages of diagnostic testing, and emergency department and hospital admissions. We also found high risk-adjusted variation for multiple quality indicators, indicating opportunity for quality improvement in end-of-life dementia care.
In this issue of JAMA, Lee and colleagues examine the association between Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST), which involve portable medical orders that document treatment limitations for out-of-hospital emergency care and for limiting overtreatment at the end of life. The authors studied adults with chronic life-limiting illnesses who were hospitalized within the last 6 months of life and who had completed a POLST before their last inpatient admission. Among 1818 patients enrolled, 656 (36%) had POLST orders for “full treatment” and 1162 had orders for either “limited additional interventions” (761 [42%]) or “comfort measures only” (401 [22%]). Among the combined latter 2 groups, 472 (41%) were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), 436 (38%) received POLST-discordant intensive care, and 204 (18%) received POLST-discordant life-sustaining treatments, defined as mechanical ventilation, vasoactive infusions, new renal replacement therapy, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Patients with cancer or dementia were less likely to receive POLST-discordant intensive care, whereas patients hospitalized for traumatic injuries were more likely to receive POLST-discordant intensive care. These results are sobering.
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