CONTEXT: Hospice care focuses on improving the quality of end-of-life care and respecting patients' preferences regarding end-of-life treatment. The impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the utilization of hospice services is unknown.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate the utilization of hospice care services before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
METHODS: All patients (n = 19,900) cared for at Taipei City Hospital from January 2019 to April 2020 were divided into three time points: January-April 2019 (before COVID-19), May-December 2019 (interim), and January-April 2020 (during COVID-19). This cohort study compared the monthly utilization of hospice services before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
RESULTS: There was no significant difference in hospice home visits (194 vs. 184; P = 0.686) and new enrollments (15 vs. 14; P = 0.743) to hospice home care before and during the pandemic. However, the bed occupancy rate in hospice units in the hospital was significantly reduced from 66.2% before the pandemic to 37.4% during the pandemic (P = 0.029), whereas that in non-hospice units had a non-significant decrease from 81.6% before the pandemic to 71.8% during the pandemic (P = 0.086). During the pandemic, the number of inpatient days in hospice units was affected more severely than in non-hospice units (-42.4% vs.-10.9%; P = 0.029).
CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that hospice home care services were maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic, while the utilization of hospice inpatient care services reduced. Home care for hospice patients is an essential component of palliative care during a pandemic.
Context/Objective: Essential indicators of high-quality end-of-life care in intensive care units (ICUs) have been established but examined inconsistently and predominantly with small samples, mostly from Western countries. Our study goal was to comprehensively measure end-of-life-care quality delivered in ICUs using chart-derived process-based quality measures for a large cohort of critically ill Taiwanese patients.
Methods: For this observational study, patients with APACHE II score =20 or goal of palliative care and with ICU stay exceeding three days ( N = 326) were consecutively recruited and followed until death.
Results: Documentation of process-based indicators for Taiwanese patients dying in ICUs was variable (8.9%–96.3%), but high for physician communication of the patient's poor prognosis to his/her family members (93.0%), providing specialty palliative-care consultations (73.3%), a do-not-resuscitate order in place at death (96.3%), death without cardiopulmonary resuscitation (93.5%), and family presence at patient death (76.1%). Documentation was infrequent for social-worker involvement (8.9%) and interdisciplinary family meetings to discuss goals of care (22.4%). Patients predominantly (79.8%) continued life-sustaining treatments (LSTs) until death and died with full life support, with 88.3% and 58.9% of patients dying with mechanical ventilation support and vasopressors, respectively.
Conclusions: Taiwanese patients dying in ICUs heavily used LSTs until death despite high prevalences of documented prognostic communication, providing specialty palliative-care consultations, having a do-not-resuscitate order in place, and death without cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Family meetings should be actively promoted to facilitate appropriate end-of-life-care decisions to avoid unnecessary suffering from potentially inappropriate LSTs during the last days of life.
BACKGROUND: Spiritual care is frequently cited as a key component of hospice care in Taiwanese healthcare and beyond. The aim of this research is to gauge physicians and nurses' self-reported perspectives and clinical practices on the roles of their professions in addressing spiritual care in an inpatient palliative care unit in a tertiary hospital with Buddhist origins.
METHODS: We performed semi-structured interviews with physicians and nurses working in hospice care over a year on their self-reported experiences in inpatient spiritual care. We utilized a directed approach to qualitative content analysis to identify themes emerging from interviews.
RESULTS: Most participants identified as neither spiritual nor religious. Themes in defining spiritual care, spiritual distress, and spiritual care challenges included understanding patient values and beliefs, fear of the afterlife and repercussions of poor family relationships, difficulties in communication, the patient's medical state, and a perceived lack of preparedness and time to deliver spiritual care.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study suggests that Taiwanese physicians and nurses overall find spiritual care difficult to define in practice and base perceptions and practices of spiritual care largely on patient's emotional and physical needs. Spiritual care is also burdened logistically by difficulties in navigating family and cultural dynamics, such as speaking openly about death. More research on spiritual care in Taiwan is needed to define the appropriate training, practice, and associated challenges in provision of spiritual care.
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: 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.
A do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order is an important end-of-life decision. In Taiwan, family caregivers are also involved in this decision-making process. This study aimed to explore the concerns and experiences regarding DNR decisions among caregivers in Taiwan. Qualitative study was conducted. Convenience sampling was used, and 26 caregivers were recruited whose patients had a DNR order and had received hospice care or hospice home care. Semi-structured interviews were used for data collection, including the previous experiences of DNR discussions with the patients and medical staff and their concerns and difficulties in decision-making. The data analysis was based on the principle of thematic analysis. Four themes were identified: (1) Patients: The caregivers respected the patients’ willingness and did not want to make them feel like “giving up.” (2) Caregivers’ self: They did not want to intensify the patients’ suffering but sometimes found it emotionally difficult to accept death. (3) Other family members: They were concerned about the other family members’ opinions on DNR orders, their blame, and their views on filial impiety. (4) Medical staff: The information and suggestions from the medical staff were foundational to their decision-making. The caregivers needed the health care professionals’ supports to deal with the concerns from patients and other family members as well as their emotional reactions.
Taiwan was the first Asian country to endorse patient autonomy, and advance care planning (ACP) has been highly promoted to improve quality of end-of-life (EOL). A mixed-methods pilot survey was conducted in northwestern Taiwan to investigate older community-dwelling residents’ (N = 52) ACP behavioral engagement, socio-demographical correlates, and their preferred intervention strategies. An interview subset (25%, N = 13) was purposely chosen for in-depth feedback and rationales behind their ACP decision-making. Rich information was obtained about perceived facilitators and inhibitors to initiate ACP and preferred intervention strategies in ACP programs. Consistent with previous literature, carefully designed ACP programs that incorporated family decision-making and met older subjects’ multiple needs would increase program acceptability and foster ACP engagement among older Taiwanese in the community setting.
Objectives: Little is known about the experience of family caregivers of patients who require prolonged mechanical ventilation (PMV). We examined the perspectives of caregivers of patients who died after PMV to explore the role of palliative care and the quality of dying and death (QODD) in patients and understand the psychological symptoms of these caregivers.
Methods: A longitudinal study was performed in five hospitals in Taipei, Taiwan. Routine palliative care family conferences and optional consultation with a palliative care specialist were provided, and family caregivers were asked to complete surveys.
Results: In total, 136 family caregivers of 136 patients receiving PMV were recruited and underwent face-to-face baseline interviews in 2016–2017. By 2018, 61 (45%) of 136 patients had died. We successfully interviewed 30 caregivers of patients’ death to collect information on the QODD of patients and administer the Impact of Event Scale (IES), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale to caregivers. We observed that more frequent palliative care family conferences were associated with poorer QODD in patients (coefficients: -44.04% and 95% CIs -75.65 to -12.44), and more psychological symptoms among caregivers (coefficient: 9.77% and 95% CI 1.63 to 17.90 on CES-D and coefficient: 7.67% and 95% CI 0.78 to 14.55 on HADS). A higher caregiver burden at baseline correlated with lower psychological symptoms (coefficient: -0.35% and 95% CI -0.58 to -0.11 on IES and coefficient: -0.22% and 95% CI -0.40 to -0.05 on CES-D) among caregivers following the patients’ death. Caregivers’ who accepted the concept of palliative care had fewer psychological symptoms after patients’ death (coefficient: -3.29% and 95% CI -6.32 to -0.25 on IES and coefficient: -3.22% and 95% CI -5.24 to -1.20 on CES-D).
Conclusions: Palliative care conferences were more common among family members with increased distress. Higher caregiver burden and caregiver acceptance of palliative care at baseline both predicted lower levels of caregiver distress after death.
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.
Due to cultural traditions, most Taiwanese do not have an advance directive or healthcare proxy. We explored how patients with mild dementia in Taiwan may still make self-determined decisions concerning advance directives for their healthcare and end-of-life care choices as the disease progresses. We examined 260 respondents with mild dementia at a Taiwan medical center: 199 patients who agreed (and 61 patients who disagreed) with the concept of advance directives completed a structured questionnaire. Multiple logistic regression models to determine the between-group differences revealed that the following were positively associated with approval of end-of-life directives: maintaining one's quality of life (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 2.44; 95% CI: 1.07-5.53), discussion with family members (AOR, 3.50; 95% CI: 1.49-8.26), and friend support networks (AOR, 3.36; 95% CI: 1.34-8.43). Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (AOR, 0.27; 95% CI: 0.09-0.79) was negatively associated with approval. There was also a positive association between the support of the legal validity of end-of-life directives (OR, 1.93; 95% CI: 1.07-3.48), without other confounding factors. In Taiwanese society, we remain mindful of cultural influences that may impact patients, including maintaining one's quality of life, discussion with family members, and friend/support networks. These influences may help dementia patients complete their advance directives.
Background: Although advance care planning discussions are increasingly accepted worldwide, their ideal timing is uncertain and cultural factors may pertain.
Aim: To evaluate timing and factors affecting initiation of advance care planning discussions for adult patients in Japan and Taiwan.
Design: Mixed-methods questionnaire survey to quantitatively determine percentages of patients willing to initiate advance care planning discussions at four stages of illness trajectory ranging from healthy to undeniably ill, and to identify qualitative perceptions underlying preferred timing.
Setting/participants: Patients aged 40–75 years visiting outpatient departments at four Japanese and two Taiwanese hospitals were randomly recruited.
Results: Overall (of 700 respondents), 72% (of 365) in Japan and 84% (of 335) in Taiwan (p < 0.001) accepted discussion before illness. In Japan, factors associated with willingness before illness were younger age and rejection of life-sustaining treatments; in Taiwan, older age, stronger social support, and rejection of life-sustaining treatments. Four main categories of attitudes were extracted: the most common welcomed discussion as a wise precaution, responses in this first category outnumbered preference for postponement of discussion until imminent end of life, acceptance of the universal inevitability of death, and preference for discussion at healthcare providers’ initiative.
Conclusion: The majority of patients are willing to begin discussion before their health is severely compromised; about one out of five patients are unwilling to begin until clearly facing death. To promote advance care planning, healthcare providers must be mindful of patients’ preferences and factors associated with acceptance and reluctance to initiate advance care planning.
Background: Adolescents with brain stem dysfunction may undergo many invasive treatments, and parents are often faced with making the decision to withdraw treatment. However, in the face of their child's death, the spiritual practices of parents dealing with end-of-life decision-making remain under investigated.
Purpose: This study explores the spiritual practices in parents making end-of-life decisions for adolescents on life support with brain stem dysfunction.
Method: A descriptive phenomenological study was conducted through in-depth interviews with three parents of two adolescents in Taiwan. Data were analysed using Colaizzi's seven-step protocol.
Results: Three main themes emerged: (1) faith during decision-making, (2) struggles during decision-making, (3) transformation during decision-making. The findings indicate that "transforming the nature of hope" is the essence of the experience.
Conclusion: Family-centred care, gaining insight into parental spiritual practices, and developing culturally-appropriate care are recommended.
Purpose: The aim of the study was to determine the effectiveness of dignity therapy for end-of-life patients with cancer.
Methods: This study used a quasi-experimental study design with a nonrandomized controlled trial. Dignity therapy was used as an intervention in the experimental group, and general visit was used in the control group. Thirty end-of-life patients with cancer were recruited, with 16 in the experimental group and 14 in the control group. Outcome variables were the participants' dignity, demoralization, and depression. Measurements were taken at the following time points: pre-test (before intervention), post-test 1 (the 7th day), and post-test 2 (the 14th day). The effectiveness of the interventions the two groups was measured using the generalized estimating equation, with the p value set to be less than 0.05.
Results: After dignity therapy, the end-of-life patients with cancer reflected increased dignity significantly [ß = -37.08, standard error (SE) = 7.43, Wald 2 = 24.94, p < 0.001], whereas demoralization (ß = -39.55, SE = 6.42, Wald 2 = 37.95, p < 0.001) and depression (ß = -12.01, SE = 2.17, Wald 2 = 30.71, p < 0.001) were both reduced significantly.
Conclusion: Clinical nurses could be adopting dignity therapy to relieve psychological distress and improve spiritual need in end-of-life patients with cancer. Future studies might be expanded to looking at patients vis-à-vis end-of-life patients without cancer to improve their psychological distress. These results provide reference data for the care of end-of-life patients with cancer for nursing professionals.
During an epidemic, almost all healthcare facilities restrict the visiting of patients to prevent disease transmission. For hospices with terminally ill patients, the trade-off between compassion and infection control becomes a difficult decision. This study aimed to survey the changes in visiting policy for all 76 hospice wards in Taiwan during the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. The altered visiting policies were assessed by the number of visitors per patient allowed at one time, the daily number of visiting slots, the number of hours open daily, and requisites for hospice ward entry. The differences in visiting policies between hospice wards and ordinary wards were also investigated. Data were collected by reviewing the official website of each hospital and were supplemented by phone calls in cases where no information was posted on the website. One quarter (n = 20) of hospice wards had different visiting policies to those of ordinary wards in the same hospital. Only one hospice ward operated an open policy, and in contrast, nine (11.8%) stopped visits entirely. Among the 67 hospice wards that allowed visiting, at most, two visitors at one time per patient were allowed in 46 (68.6%), one visiting time daily was allowed in 32 (47.8%), one hour of visiting per day was allowed in 29 (43.3%), and checking of identity and travel history was carried out in 12 wards (17.9%). During the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all hospice wards in Taiwan changed their visiting policies, but the degree of restriction varied. Further studies could measure the impacts of visiting policy changes on patients and healthcare professionals.
Context: Universal screening to identify vulnerable patients who may receive limited benefits from life-sustaining treatments can facilitate palliative care in dialysis populations.
Objectives: We aimed to develop prediction models for 1-year mortality in peritoneal dialysis patients.
Methods: This prospective cohort study included 401 adult Taiwanese prevalent peritoneal dialysis patients (average age 56.2 ± 14 years). In addition to obtaining clinical characteristics and laboratory data, the primary care nurses evaluated the “surprise question” and “palliative care screening tool” for each patient in March 2015. Multivariate logistic regression models were conducted to predict the primary outcome of 1-year all-cause mortality.
Results: There were 34 (8.5%) patients who died during the first year of follow-up. Patients allocated to the “not surprised” group according to the surprise question and those who received a score = 4 on the palliative care screening tool had increased odds of death [odds ratio 24.68 (95% CI 10.66 - 57.13) and 12.18 (95% CI 5.66 - 26.21), respectively]. We also developed a clinical risk model for 1-year mortality that included sex, dialysis vintage, coronary artery disease, malignancy, normalized protein nitrogen appearance, white blood cell count, and serum albumin and sodium levels. Integrating the surprise question, palliative care screening tool, and clinical risk model exhibited good discrimination with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.95. Kaplan-Meier analysis showed worse survival in high risk patients predicted by the integrated model (log-rank P<.001).
Conclusion: screening with the use of the integrated measurement can identify high-risk peritoneal dialysis patients. This approach may facilitate palliative care interventions for at-risk the subpopulations.
Purpose: The responsibility of taking care of terminal patients is accepted as a role of family members in Taiwan. Only a few studies have focused on the effect of palliative care consultation service (PCCS) on caregiver burden between terminal cancer family caregivers (CFCs) and non-cancer family caregivers (NCFCs). Therefore, the purpose of this study is to address the effect of PCCS on caregiver burden between CFC and NCFC over time.
Methods: A prospective longitudinal study was conducted in a medical center in northern Taiwan from July to November 2017. The participants were both terminally ill cancer and non-cancer patients who were prepared to receive PCCS, as well as their family caregivers. Characteristics including family caregivers and terminal patients and Family Caregiver Burden Scale (FCBS) were recorded pre-, 7, and 14 days following PCCS. A generalized estimating equation model was used to analyze the change in the level of family caregiver burden (FCB) between CFC and NCFC.
Results: The study revealed that there were no statistically significant differences in FCB between CFC and NCFC 7 days and 14 days after PCCS (p > 0.05). However, FCB significantly decreased in both CFC and NCFC from pre-PCCS to 14 days after PCCS (ß = - 12.67, p = 0.013). PPI of patients was the key predictor of FCB over time following PCCS (ß = 1.14, p = 0.013).
Conclusions: This study showed that PCCS can improve FCB in not only CFC but also NCFC. We suggest that PCCS should be used more widely in supporting family caregivers of terminally ill patients to reduce caregiver burden.
Context: Socioeconomic status (SES) is an important determinant of disparities in health services and may affect the utilization of hospice care services during end-of-life (EOL) treatment in cancer patients. However, previous studies evaluating the association between SES and utilization of hospice care services among cancer patients revealed inconsistent findings.
Objectives: This study aimed to determine the association between SES and utilization of hospice care services during the last year of life in cancer patients.
Methods: From January 1, 2006, through December 31, 2016, we identified adults with cancer diagnoses from the Registry for Catastrophic Illness in Taiwan. The cancer diagnoses in study subjects were proved by the pathohistological reports. The utilization of hospice care services during the last year of life in cancer patients included hospice inpatient care, hospice-shared care, and hospice home care.
Results: In the follow-up period, 28.6% of 516,409 cancer patients utilized hospice care services during the last year of life. After adjusting for other covariates, low SES significantly reduced the utilization of hospice care services by 18% during the last year of life in cancer patients. Moreover, a positive trend between decreasing levels of SES and lower utilization of hospice care during EOL treatment was noted (P <0.001).
Conclusions: Low SES was associated with lower utilization of hospice care services during EOL care in cancer patients. Our data support the need to target low SES cancer patients in efforts to optimally increase hospice care services during EOL care.
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.
The aging of the Taiwanese population has become a major issue. Previous research has focused on the burden and stress faced by caregivers, but has not explored how the experience of these caregivers influences decisions of advance care planning (ACP). Semi-structured and in-depth interviews were conducted. Qualitative content analysis was used to identify important themes. Five themes and fourteen sub-themes were identified: (1) Past experiences: patient wishes, professional recommendations, and expectation about disease progress; (2) Impact of care on family members: positive affirmation, open-minded life, social isolation and health effects, and financial and life planning effects; (3) Attitude toward life: not forcing to stay, and not becoming a burden, (4) Expected proxy dilemmas: torment between doing or not, seeing the extension of suffering and toil, and remorse and self-blame; (5) Expectation of end of life (EOL) care: caregiver's experience and EOL care decisions, and practicality of EOL decision making. After making multiple medical decisions for their disabled relatives, caregivers are able to calmly face their own medical decisions, and "not becoming a burden" is their primary consideration. It's suggested that implementation of shared decision-making on medical care for patients with chronic disability will not only improve the quality of their medical care but also reduce the development of remorse and guilty feelings of caregivers after making medical decisions.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to explore the status of aggressive end-of-life care and symptom relief treatments in terminally ill patients who had discussed the withdrawal of mechanical ventilation.
METHODS: This research is a retrospective observational study based on a chart review. Terminal patients aged = 20 years, who were intubated with mechanical ventilation support, who underwent hospice-shared care, and who personally, or whose close relatives, had discussed the withdrawal of mechanical ventilation with hospice-shared care team members in a tertiary hospital in Taiwan during 2012 to 2015 were included. Demographics, medical conditions, and aggressive end-of-life care, including hospitalization, use of vasopressors, artificial nutrition, tube feeding, antibiotics, and symptom relief treatments including the use of opioids, steroids, and sedatives, were identified. The modes of care and treatments of patients by the status of withdrawal of mechanical ventilation were compared.
RESULTS: A total of 141 patients had discussed the withdrawal of mechanical ventilation, and 111 (78.7%) had been withdrawn. Aggressive end-of-life care was noted in all patients regardless of mechanical ventilation status. There were no significant differences in the number and pattern of aggressive end-of-life care measures between patients who had or had not been withdrawn. There were significantly higher rates of symptom relief treatments used in patients who had been withdrawn.
CONCLUSIONS: Aggressive end-of-life care is common for patients who have discussed the withdrawal of mechanical ventilation. There are significantly higher rates of symptom relief medications administered in patients who have been withdrawn from mechanical ventilation.