The use of long-term and continuous intravenous inotropic support (CIIS) has increased over the past decade. Published evidence indicates that CIIS improves New York Heart Association functional class but does not impact survival. American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) guidelines published in 2013 delineated indications for intravenous inotropic support. Long-term CIIS as palliative therapy (i.e., aim is symptomatic improvement in patients who are not appropriate for surgical therapies) in patients with ACC/AHA Stage D congestive heart failure (CHF) despite optimal medical treatment and device therapy was assigned a Class IIb recommendation (Level of Evidence B).
A huge proportion of people with Parkinson’s disease (PwP) in Germany have written an advance directive (AD). However, the content of these forms in regard to specific Parkinson’s disease (PD)-related complications is rather low. There is an urgent need to specify ADs of PwP and consequently to improve decision-making concerning end-of-life aspects for affected patients. Evidence- and consensus-based PD-specific recommendations for ADs might help to close this gap. A Delphi study with two online Delphi rounds was initiated. Initial recommendations were built on findings from previous studies and derived from evidence-based literature. Consensus on recommendations was defined as =80% concordance regarding clarity of formulated aspects and relevance for clinical practice. A total of 22 experts (15.2% response rate) predominantly from the workgroup ‘neuro-palliative care’ in Germany performed two Delphi rounds. Consensus was achieved for 14 of 24 initially presented recommendations. Recommendations relating to dopaminergic therapy as well as to non-oral therapy options were considered important by the expert panel. The recommendations should be taken into account when developing and giving advice on ADs for PwP. Health professionals should be trained in counselling ADs of PwP and in integrating these recommendations in ADs during the disease course of PD.
Ces recommandations de la Haute Autorité de Santé ont pour objectifs de mieux définir les modalités d'utilisation des traitements médicamenteux, en particulier hors AMM, en situation palliative et phase terminale chez l'adulte :
- pour l'antalgie des douleurs rebelles ou la prévention des douleurs rebelles provoquées ;
- pour la sédation, qu'elle soit proportionnée ou profonde et continue maintenue jusqu'au décès ;
- y compris, le cas échéant, les modalités spécifiques au domicile.
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BACKGROUND: The definition of the eligibility criteria of newborn, infant, child, or adolescent patients for palliative care (PC) is complicated by the fact that these patients generally present with very specific case histories that make it inadvisable to directly adopt existing PC protocols devised for adult patients. Thus, the goal of this paper is to define a standard set of criteria for establishing pediatric palliative care (PPC) eligibility.
METHODS: The method adopted was that of the consensus conference. According to the guidelines issued by the Higher Institute of Health, the Board of the Italian Society for Palliative Care (i.e. steering committee) appointed a multidisciplinary group of eight health care professionals (i.e. doctors, nurses and psychologists) who worked from May 2014 to February 2016 to reach a consensus over PPC eligibility. This panel of relevant experts redacted a report summarizing all available scientific information concerning PPC, which was then submitted to the attention of a multidisciplinary jury composed of specialists and non-specialists of the field. The document thus produced was subsequently reviewed by an extended team of experts.
RESULTS: The consensus conference drafted a final document determining the guidelines for PPC eligibility of newborns, infants, children, and adolescents suffering from either oncological or non-oncological diseases.
CONCLUSIONS: This report provides health care providers with practical guidelines on how to define the eligibility of pediatric patients for PPC. Given the current situation in Italy, these guidelines will be instrumental in assisting the implementation of adequate generalist and specialist PPC services as well as in helping policymakers draft and implement national legislation pertaining to PPC.
Human immunodeficiency virus infection is incurable. About 770 000 people died of HIV worldwide in 2018. More than two-thirds of these died in Africa (UNAIDS Global Aids Update 2019). Although Statistics South Africa has recorded some improvement in the overall survival, HIV-related levels of morbidity and mortality remain high. Mortality is greatest among those not on antiretroviral therapy (ART), that is, either naïve to ART or those who have stopped taking medication and are outside of care. Mortality is also high in he first year after the start of ART. Of South Africa’s 7.97 million people living with HIV (PLWHIV) in 2019, only 4.94 million are on ART. A
detectable viral load while on ART is usually a sign of treatment failure or poor viral control. These persons are also at increased risk of HIV-related morbidity and mortality.
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Purpose: International guidelines are available to guide prescription of antiemetic and pain flare medications in patients receiving palliative radiotherapy for bone metastases, but prescription rates are quite variable. We hypothesized that a simple electronic quality checklist could increase the evidence-based use of these medications.
Materials and methods: We implemented an electronic quality checklist item in our center for all patients treated with palliative radiotherapy for lumbar spine bone metastases. We retrospectively reviewed patients in the 6-month pre- and post-intervention. Patients were stratified according to if they were treated within a dedicated rapid palliative (RPAL) radiotherapy program or not. Chi-square tests were used to compare rates of antiemetic and pain flare medications pre- and post-intervention and RPAL vs not.
Results: A total of 375 patients were identified with 42 (11.2%) treated in dedicated RPAL program. The proportion of patients treated with prophylactic antiemetic and pain flare medications pre-intervention (n = 226) and post-intervention (n = 149) was respectively 34.1% vs 59.1% (p < 0.001) and 26.1% vs 43.0% (p = 0.01). Observed differences for antiemetic prescription rates were greater for patients who were not treated within a dedicated palliative radiotherapy program, but this was not the case for pain flare medications.
Conclusions: Our data shows that a simple quality checklist item can have a significant effect on the evidence-based use of prophylactic antiemetic and pain flare medications in patients treated with palliative radiotherapy for bone metastases. We believe such strategies should be routinely included in other clinical pathways to improve the use of symptom control medications.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care trials have higher rates of attrition. The MORECare guidance recommends applying classifications of attrition to report attrition to help interpret trial results. The guidance separates attrition into three categories: attrition due to death, illness or at random. The aim of our study is to apply the MORECare classifications on reported attrition rates in trials.
METHODS: A systematic review was conducted and attrition classifications retrospectively applied. Four databases, EMBASE; Medline, CINHAL and PsychINFO, were searched for randomised controlled trials of palliative care populations from 01.01.2010 to 08.10.2016. This systematic review is part of a larger review looking at recruitment to randomised controlled trials in palliative care, from January 1990 to early October 2016. We ran random-effect models with and without moderators and descriptive statistics to calculate rates of missing data.
RESULTS: One hundred nineteen trials showed a total attrition of 29% (95% CI 28 to 30%). We applied the MORECare classifications of attrition to the 91 papers that contained sufficient information. The main reason for attrition was attrition due to death with a weighted mean of 31.6% (SD 27.4) of attrition cases. Attrition due to illness was cited as the reason for 17.6% (SD 24.5) of participants. In 50.8% (SD 26.5) of cases, the attrition was at random. We did not observe significant differences in missing data between total attrition in non-cancer patients (26%; 95% CI 18-34%) and cancer patients (24%; 95% CI 20-29%). There was significantly more missing data in outpatients (29%; 95% CI 22-36%) than inpatients (16%; 95% CI 10-23%). We noted increased attrition in trials with longer durations.
CONCLUSION: Reporting the cause of attrition is useful in helping to understand trial results. Prospective reporting using the MORECare classifications should improve our understanding of future trials.
Background: The Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) is an academic institution of the Holy See (Vatican) which aims to develop and promote Catholic teachings on questions of biomedical ethics. Palliative care (PC) experts from around the world professing different faiths were invited by the PAV to develop strategic recommendations for the global development of PC ("PAL-LIFE group").
Design: Thirteen experts in PC advocacy participated in an online Delphi process. In four iterative rounds, participants were asked to identify the most significant stakeholder groups and then propose for each, strategic recommendations to advance PC. Each round incorporated the feedback from previous rounds until consensus was achieved on the most important recommendations. In the last step, the ad hoc group was asked to rank the stakeholders' groups by order of importance on a 13 points-scale and to propose suggestions for implementation. A cluster analysis provided a classification of the stakeholders in different levels of importance for PC development.
Results: Thirteen stakeholder groups and 43 recommendations resulted from the first round and, of those, 13 recommendations were chosen as the most important (one for each stakeholder group). Five groups had higher scores. The recommendation chosen for these top five groups were 1) Policy Makers: Ensure universal access to PC; 2) Academia: Offer mandatory PC courses to undergraduates; 3) Health care workers: PC professionals should receive adequate certification; 4) Hospitals and health care centers: Every healthcare center should ensure access to PC medicines, and 5) PC associations: National Associations should be effective advocates and work with their governments in the process of implementing international policy framework. Not chosen recommendations for both this higher scored group, plus for the remaining eight groups, are also presented in order of importance.
Conclusion: The white paper represents a position statementof the PAV with regards to advocacy and promotion of PC.
Palliative care is defined by the World Health Organization as “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness…”. The last days and hours of a person’s life can be associated with immense physical as well as emotional suffering. Relief of pain and other distressing symptoms, and enhancement of quality of life, are among the essential elements of good palliative care. Palliative care could benefit an estimated 69% to 82% of dying individuals in Canada. As Canada’s population ages, with increasing prevalence of chronic conditions and treatments resulting in prolonged life, it is expected that there will be an increased need for palliative care services. Approximately 9% of Canadians (or 2.7 million) reported using cannabis for medical purposes in the first half of 2019.4 Herbal cannabis (cannabis sativa) contains hundreds of pharmacological components, many of which are not well-characterized. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most prevalent pharmacologically active compound and is primarily responsible for the psychoactive and physical effects of cannabis. Cannabidiol (also commonly referred to as CBD) is the second most prevalent. It has very little if any psychotropic effects. Quantity and ratio of these and other components can vary considerably between plants and even within the same plant. Two prescription cannabinoids are currently marketed in Canada: Nabiximols (Sativex) which contains THC and cannabidiol, and Nabilone (Cesamet) which is a synthetic cannabinoid. Dronabinol (Marinol), synthetic THC, was withdrawn from the Canadian market however it is available in other jurisdictions. For the purposes of this report, medical cannabis refers to use of the cannabis plant or its extracts or synthetic cannabinoids for medical purposes. Medical cannabis may be of value for a number of conditions, including but not limited to pain, nausea and vomiting, depression, anxiety and appetite stimulation. Adverse effects of cannabis are very common, developing in 80% to 90% of patients. These include but are not limited to psychiatric disturbances, sedation, speech disorders, impaired memory, dizziness, ataxia, addiction, irritability, and driving impairment. Risk of adverse effects is likely lower with cannabidiol alone as compared to THC. The potential for drug interactions is also an important concern. These risks must be considered along with the an apparent lack of evidence surrounding effectiveness of medical cannabis in many conditions for which its use is promoted. This report updates and expands on a previous summary of abstracts report.9 The objective of the report is to review evidence and guidelines for use of medical cannabis in the palliative care setting.
Patients undergoing cardiothoracic surgery face a small but significant mortality risk. Despite this, end-of-life care specific to this population has received little attention. This article examines current literature on end-of-life care in cardiothoracic surgery and in critical care. Recommendations for management at the end of life are made based on the available evidence.
Background: Recently, there has been a growing interest in the use of artificial hydration therapy (AHT) for patients with terminal cancer. The Japanese Society for Palliative Medicine published the guideline for AHT in 2007, and it was revised in 2013 based on the concept of cancer cachexia.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of AHT for patients with terminal cancer having overhydration symptoms based on this revised guideline.
Methods: This is a before-and-after study. We retrospectively analyzed 121 patients, of the 523 patients with terminal cancer who were admitted during the last 4 years, who were receiving “inappropriate hydration therapy.” We performed guideline-based AHT and examined the effects on the alleviation of hydration-related symptoms, quality of life (QOL), patient satisfaction, and the feeling of benefit from AHT using a numeric rating scale, European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality-of-Life Questionnaire-C30, satisfaction scale, and benefit scale on day 7 ± 1 compared to those at baseline.
Results: Hydration-related symptoms (nausea: 32, abdominal pain/distention: 35, peripheral edema: 42, and dyspnea: 28 cases) were significantly improved after performing guideline-based AHT (5.35 ± 1.26 4.00 ± 1.51, P = .002; 5.41 ± 1.44 4.12 ± 1.52; P = .005; 5.16 ± 1.38 3.29 ± 1.66; P < .0001; and 5.24 ± 1.22 4.21 ± 1.53, P = .002, respectively). The general QOL scores, overall satisfaction, and feeling of benefit were also significantly improved (2.67 ± 1.21 3.98 ± 1.55, P < .0001; 2.25 ± 1.35 3.48 ± 1.44, P < .0001; and 3.12 ± 1.24 4.31 ± 1.38, P = .0001, respectively).
Conclusions: An appropriate AHT could alleviate overhydration-related symptoms and improve the QOL, patient satisfaction, and feeling of benefit.
The main goal of palliative care is to relieve suffering. Opioids are an essential part of the pharmacological options required to address suffering by helping to relieve the pain and chronic breathlessness that may be experienced by someone with a life-limiting illness. This paper considers the recent history and current issues of the 'opioid crisis' providing recommendations to which regulatory and peak bodies can work with the Australian government, ensuring consistent adherence to WHO guidelines maintaining access to evidence based opioid management for palliative care patients whilst actively avoiding unintended suffering restricted access can cause. The recommendations are as follows:Review of the Palliative Care schedule of the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme Support of prescribers with current evidence, clinical practice guidelines and regulatory frameworks National opioid prescribing policies promoting linkages between palliative care and pain and addiction specialists. National real time monitoring of all opioid prescriptions Palliative care involvement in all opioids stewardship programs in acute services. Reform Medical Benefits Schedule to improve access for primary and other speciality practitioners to provide palliative care services. Compulsory palliative care education in undergraduate medical, nursing and allied health tertiary courses. Adequate, consistent stock of evidence based opioids for palliative care in community pharmacies and residential aged care facilities.These recommendations provide the regulatory guidance required to ensure persons with life limiting illness have continued access to safe and effective medication that can relieve suffering.
Background: Periprocedural providers are encountering more patients with code status limitations (CSLs) regarding their preferences for resuscitation and life-sustaining treatment who choose to undergo palliative procedures. Surgical and anesthesia guidelines for preprocedural reconsideration of CSLs have been available for several years, but it is not known whether they are being followed in practice.
Objective: We assessed compliance with existing guidelines for patients undergoing venting gastrostomy tube (VGT) for malignant bowel obstruction (MBO), serving as an example of a palliative procedure received by patients near the end of life.
Design: Code status was determined at admission and throughout the hospitalization by chart review. Documentation of code status discussions (CSDs) was identified from provider notes and compared with existing guidelines.
Setting/subjects: An institutional database retrospectively identified patients who underwent VGT placement for MBO at two academic hospitals (2014-2015).
Measurements: We identified 53 patients who underwent VGT placement for MBO. Interventional radiologists performed 88% of these procedures. Other periprocedural providers involved in these cases included surgeons, gastroenterologists, anesthesiologists, and sedation nurses.
Results: CSLs were documented before the procedure in only 43% of cases, and a documented CSD with a periprocedural provider was identified in only 22% of CSL cases. Of all VGT placements performed in patients with CSLs before the procedure, only 13% were compliant with the guidelines of preprocedural reconsideration of CSLs.
Conclusions: Increased compliance with guidelines published by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the American College of Surgeons, and the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses is necessary to ensure goal-concordant care of patients with CSLs who undergo a procedure. Efforts should be made to incorporate these guidelines into the training of all periprocedural providers.
Heart failure is a complex entity, with high morbidity and mortality. The clinical course and outcome are uncertain and difficult to predict. This document, instigated by the Heart Failure and Geriatric Cardiology Working Groups of the Spanish Society of Cardiology, addresses various aspects related to palliative care, where most cardiovascular disease will eventually converge. The document also establishes a consensus and a series of recommendations with the aim of recognizing and understanding the need to implement and progressively apply palliative care throughout the course of the disease, not only in the advanced stages, thus improving the care provided and quality of life. The purpose is to improve and adapt treatment to the needs and wishes of each patient, who must have adequate information and participate in decision-making.
OBJECTIVES: Palliative sedation is a highly debated medical practice, particularly regarding its proper use in end-of-life care. Worldwide, guidelines are used to standardise care and regulate this practice. In this review, we identify and compare national/regional clinical practice guidelines on palliative sedation against the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) palliative sedation Framework and assess the developmental quality of these guidelines using the Appraisal Guideline Research and Evaluation (AGREE II) instrument.
METHODS: Using the PRISMA criteria, we searched multiple databases (PubMed, CancerLit, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, NHS Evidence and Google Scholar) for relevant guidelines, and selected those written in English, Dutch and Italian; published between January 2000 and March 2016.
RESULTS: Of 264 hits, 13 guidelines-Belgium, Canada (3), Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Europe, and USA (2) were selected. 8 contained at least 9/10 recommendations published in the EAPC Framework; 9 recommended 'pre-emptive discussion of the potential role of sedation in end-of-life care'; 9 recommended 'nutrition/hydration while performing sedation' and 8 acknowledged the need to 'care for the medical team'. There were striking differences in terminologies used and in life expectancy preceding the practice. Selected guidelines were conceptually similar, comparing closely to the EAPC Framework recommendations, albeit with notable variations.
CONCLUSIONS: Based on AGREE II, 3 guidelines achieved top scores and could therefore be recommended for use in this context. Also, domains 'scope and purpose' and 'editorial independence' ranked highest and lowest, respectively-underscoring the importance of good reportage at the developmental stage.
A growing evidence base highlights the negative impact of poor psychosocial care at end-of-life. Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) 15-39 years of age with cancer face unique medical and psychosocial challenges that make them especially vulnerable when treatment is not successful. Although the importance of age-appropriate medical and psychosocial care is internationally recognized for AYAs across the cancer trajectory, there is little guidance on best-practice care and communication practices with AYAs as they approach the end-of-life. We conducted a narrative review and found evidence points to the potential benefits of introducing palliative care teams early in the care trajectory. Research undertaken to date emphasizes the importance of exploring AYAs' preferences around end-of-life issues in a repeated, consistent manner, and highlighted that AYAs may have strong preferences on a range of issues such as being able to stay in their own home, being comfortable and free from pain, and expressing their wishes to loved ones. We highlight a number of best-practice recommendations to guide clinicians around the critical elements of when, who, what, and how end-of-life conversations may be best facilitated with AYAs. Gaps in the evidence base remain, including research focusing on better understanding barriers and facilitators to timely, age-appropriate end-of-life communication for AYAs with different diagnoses, where discordance between AYA-parent preferences exists, and when AYAs die at home versus in hospital. We have proposed a new model to support clinicians and researchers to better conceptualize how interacting individual, familial, and sociocultural factors impact end-of-life communication with AYAs in clinical settings.
There is a paucity of evidence on the role, use, benefit and challenges of artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) in children at end of life. Parents express the difficulty they face with making the decision to withdraw ANH. Decision-making on the role of ANH in an individual child requires careful multidisciplinary team deliberation and clear goals of care with children and families. Four paediatric palliative care specialist centres reviewed the current literature and developed consensus guidelines on ANH at end of life. These guidelines seek to provide a practical approach to clinical decision-making on the role of ANH in a child or young person entering the end-of-life phase.
For many patients, notably among elderly nursing home residents, no plans about end-of-life decisions and palliative care are made. Consequently, when these patients experience life-threatening events, decisions to withhold or withdraw life-support raise major challenges for emergency healthcare professionals. Emergency department premises are not designed for providing the psychological and technical components of end-of-life care. The continuous inflow of large numbers of patients leaves little time for detailed assessments, and emergency department staff often lack training in end-of-life issues. For prehospital medical teams (in France, the physician-staffed mobile emergency and intensive care units known as SMURs), implementing treatment withholding and withdrawal decisions that may have been made before the acute event is not the main focus. The challenge lies in circumventing the apparent contradiction between the need to make immediate decisions and the requirement to set up a complex treatment project that may lead to treatment withholding and/or withdrawal. Laws and recommendations are of little assistance for making treatment withholding and withdrawal decisions in the emergency setting. The French Intensive Care Society (Société de Réanimation de Langue Française, SRLF) and French Society of Emergency Medicine (Société Française de Médecine d'Urgence, SFMU) tasked a panel of emergency physicians and intensivists with developing a document to serve both as a position paper on life-support withholding and withdrawal in the emergency setting and as a guide for professionals providing emergency care. The task force based its work on the available legislation and recommendations and on a review of published studies.
Patients at end of life often express a desire to travel, and many have requests that go unfulfilled. Studies show that a majority of patients have a desire to return to their place of birth to die when presented with the option, yet goals-of-care conversations do not routinely include travel desires for numerous reasons. Patients faced with a life-limiting illness are at greater risk of depression, withdrawal, denial, anger, and feelings of helplessness. When palliative care teams assist patients with end-of-life travel, they empower them with a greater sense of control over the dying process. Improving goals-of-care conversations regarding medical travel begins with well-developed communication skills and a knowledge of available options. This article primarily focuses on the recommendation of medical travel as a goals-of-care comfort measure for the palliative care patient.
Over the past several years, pediatric critical care units increasingly count on the expert advisement of palliative care specialists. Given the limited availability of pediatric palliative care specialists, all palliative care clinicians may be required to care for pediatric patients and their families. Special considerations in caring for these patients include the relative importance of prognosis, involvement of child life, music and pet therapy, incorporation of parents in end-of-life rituals, care for siblings, use of medical technology, and prolonged duration of stay. The following top 10 tips provide recommendations for caring for seriously ill infants, children, adolescents, and the families of these critically ill pediatric patients. They are written by pediatric intensive care providers to address common issues around palliative care in intensive care units.