Palliative care was first developed for patients with terminal cancer. According to the definition of World Health Organization (WHO), palliative care is “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness.” (WHO, 2019a). Based on WHO’s statistics, the number of deaths caused by chronic non-cancer conditions is far more higher than by terminal cancer (WHO, 2019b). Although the benefits of providing palliative care to non-cancer patients have been increasingly recognized, compared to cancer patients, the use of palliative services among patients with non-cancer diseases is extremely low and the timing of referrals is typically late (Gadoud et al., 2014 ; Zheng et al., 2013). A survey in Scotland showed that, at death, only 20% of non-cancer patients had been formally referred for palliative care compared with 75% of cancer patients (Zheng et al., 2013). Although Taiwan is the highest-ranked Asian country on the 2015 Quality of Death Index, the percentage of non-cancer patients receiving palliative care service in Taiwan falls below the 20% noted in the Scotland survey.
OBJECTIVE: This article sought to explore ethical issues associated with prioritization decisions in palliative care.
METHODS: As part of a broader series of studies of triage in palliative care, this qualitative substudy was conducted via semi-structured focus groups and individual interviews. Transcripts were subjected to thematic analysis.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS:: Twenty health professionals working across disciplines (primary, specialist; medicine, nursing, and allied health), service types (inpatient, hospital liaison, and community), and locations (metropolitan and rural) in Victoria, Australia.
RESULTS:: Four themes emerged from the data: (1) Clinicians understood the tension between maintaining service quality with the delivery of a compromised service that sought to respond to demand. (2) They were aware of the influences of relationships and responsibilities upon patient waiting list prioritization, and (3) reported a hierarchy of suffering with certain types of clinical problems viewed as more urgent than others, for example, pain being more urgent than existential distress. (4) Clinicians noted a lack of transparency around waiting lists as they currently exist.
CONCLUSIONS: This study revealed key ethical decision-making issues associated with prioritizing access to palliative care services. Making explicit the processes and influences upon decision-making provides greater transparency of health-care utilization at the end of life.
BACKGROUND: Racial and ethnic disparities in the provision of end-of-life care are well described in the adult oncology literature. However, the impact of racial and ethnic disparities at end of life in the context of pediatric oncology remains poorly understood.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate associations between end-of-life experiences and race/ethnicity for pediatric patients with cancer.
METHODS:: A retrospective cohort study was conducted on 321 children with cancer enrolled on a palliative care service at an urban pediatric cancer who died between 2011 and 2015.
RESULTS: Compared to white patients, black patients were more likely to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR; odds ratio [OR]: 4.109, confidence interval [CI]: 1.432-11.790, P = .009) and underwent 3.136 (CI: 1.433-6.869, P = .004) CPR events for every 1 white patient CPR event. The remainder of variables related to treatment and end-of-life care were not significantly correlated with race. Hispanic patients were less likely to receive cancer-directed therapy within 28 days prior to death (OR: 0.493, CI: 0.247-0.982, P = .044) as compared to non-Hispanic patients, yet they were more likely to report a goal of cure over comfort as compared to non-Hispanic patients (OR: 3.094, CI: 1.043-9.174, P = .042). The remainder of variables were not found to be significantly correlated with ethnicity.
CONCLUSIONS: Race and ethnicity influenced select end-of-life variables for pediatric palliative oncology patients treated at a large urban pediatric cancer center. Further multicenter investigation is needed to ascertain the impact of racial/ethnic disparities on end-of-life experiences of children with cancer.
BACKGROUND: Early palliative care (PC) improves quality of life and prolongs survival for patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Despite these benefits, patient- and provider-specific barriers lead to underutilization of PC. To investigate these barriers, this 2 part study surveyed United States oncologists and patients with NSCLC.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Oncologists in the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer membership directory were surveyed on referral practice and attitudes regarding the role of PC for patients with NSCLC. Patients with advanced NSCLC at the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center were surveyed separately regarding their understanding of PC and factors influencing them to seek referral.
RESULTS: Of 279 oncologists, 93 responded. Eighty-three percent believe definitive evidence exists supporting early PC; however, in practice, oncologists only refer an average of 19% of patients at diagnosis. Reasons for not referring included lack of symptoms (56%), belief that oncologists can manage PC independently (46%), not wanting to burden patients with appointments (41%), concern that referral may not be well received (38%), and long wait times (20%). Of 100 patients with NSCLC, 64% were unfamiliar with PC. Six percent had seen a PC provider. Ninety-eight percent of patients would accept referral if recommended by their oncologist. Patients desired referral for uncontrolled pain (95%), weak support system (86%), other cancer-related symptoms (85%), goals of care discussion (76%), and depression/anxiety (76%).
CONCLUSION: Although most oncologists acknowledge benefits of early PC for patients with metastatic NSCLC, a minority of patients are referred. Few patients with NSCLC are familiar with PC, but most are interested in referral.
Background: Access to palliative care has been associated with improving quality of life and reducing the use of potentially aggressive end-of-life care. However, many challenges and barriers exist in providing palliative care to residents in northern and rural settings in Ontario, Canada.
Aim: The purpose of this study was to examine access to palliative care and associations with the use of end-of-life care in a decedent cohort of northern and southern, rural and urban, residents.
Design: Using linked administrative databases, residents were classified into geographic and rural categories. Regression methods were used to define use and associations of palliative and end-of-life care and death in acute care hospital.
Setting/Participants: A decedent cancer cohort of Ontario residents (2007-2012).
Results: Northern rural residents were less likely to receive palliative care (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.90, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.83-0.97). Those not receiving palliative care were more likely to receive potentially aggressive end-of-life care and die in an acute care hospital (adjusted OR = 1.20, 95% CI: 1.02-1.41).
Conclusions: Palliative care was significantly associated with reduced use of aggressive end-of-life care; however, disparities exist in rural locations, especially those in the north. Higher usage of emergency department (ED) and hospital resources at end of life in rural locations also reflects differing roles of rural community hospitals compared with urban hospitals. Improving access to palliative care in rural and northern locations is an important care issue and may reduce use of potentially aggressive end-of-life care.
Stroke is a leading cause of death, disability and is a symptom burden worldwide. It impacts patients and their families in various ways, including physical, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects. As stroke is potentially lethal and causes severe symptom burden, a palliative care (PC) approach is indicated in accordance with the definition of PC published by the WHO in 2002. Stroke patients can benefit from a structured approach to palliative care needs (PCN) and the amelioration of symptom burden. Stroke outcome is uncertain and outlook may change rapidly. Regarding these challenges, core competencies of PC include the critical appraisal of various treatment options, and openly and respectfully discussing therapeutic goals with patients, families, and caregivers. Nevertheless, PC in stroke has to date mainly been restricted to short care periods for dying patients after life-limiting complications. There is currently no integrated concept for PC in stroke care addressing the appropriate moment to initiate PC for stroke patients, and the question of how to screen for symptoms remains unanswered. Therefore, PC for stroke patients is often perceived as a stopgap in cases of unfavorable prognosis and very short survival times. In contrast, PC can provide much more for stroke patients and support a holistic approach, improve quality of life and ensure treatment according to the patient's wishes and values. In this short review we identify key aspects of PC in stroke care and current barriers to implementation. Additionally, we provide insights into our approach to PC in stroke care.
OBJECTIVE: To describe disparities in patterns of hospice use and end-of-life costs among ovarian cancer patients.
METHODS: Using Texas Cancer Registry-Medicare data, ovarian cancer patients deceased 2005-2012 with >12 months of continuous Medicare coverage before death were included. Descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regressions were used to evaluate patterns of hospice use. Cost and resource utilization was obtained from Medicare claims and analyzed using a non-parametric Mann-Whitney test.
RESULTS: 2331 patients were assessed: 1788 (77%) white, 359 (15%) Hispanic, 158 (7%) black and 26 (1%) other. 1756 (75%) enrolled in hospice prior to death but only 1580 (68%) died with hospice. 176 (10%) of 1756 patients unenrolled and died without hospice. 346 (20%) unenrolled from hospice multiple times. From 2008 to 2012, patients were less likely to unenroll from hospice prior to death. Black patients were more likely to unenroll from hospice prior to death (OR 2.07 [1.15-3.73]; p = 0.02) compared to white patients. The median amount paid by Medicare during the last six months of life was $38,530 for those in hospice compared to $49,942 if never enrolled in hospice (p < 0.0001) and was higher for black and Hispanic patients compared to white patients. 30% hospice unenrolled patients and 40% multiply enrolled hospice patients received at least one life extending or invasive care procedure following unenrollment from hospice.
CONCLUSION: Recently, more patients remain enrolled in hospice, but black patients have a higher risk of unenrollment. Hospice enrollment was associated with lower costs as long as a patient did not unenroll from hospice.
Head-and-neck cancers (HNCs) are significant in India. Poverty, illiteracy, lack of access to healthcare, and poor treatment infrastructure pose a major challenge in the management of these cancers. The majority of these patients present with advanced stage and are not amenable to curative treatment. The majority have the potential to benefit from palliative care (PC) interventions. Our experience has been that usually the referrals from HNC clinic for PC are at the end-of-life or terminal stage. Unfortunately, in the state of intractable suffering, it is difficult for patients to understand and fully benefit from the role of PC. Developing an effective working relationship and communication between the PC service and referring surgeons or oncologists is a key to foster more timely, appropriate referral, as both patients and clinicians often misunderstand or fail to recognize the role of PC. In preparation for a quality improvement project to improve access to PC for HNC patients at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, we reviewed the needs, challenges, conceptual models, and potential of early integration of PC in advanced HNC patients.
BACKGROUND: There is limited understanding of the symptoms that older people living with cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic kidney disease experience during the last year of life in Thailand, in addition to their health service preferences.
AIMS: To survey the symptom experiences and health service preferences at the end of life of older people with chronic illnesses from the perspective of bereaved carers.
METHODS: The study used a retrospective post-bereavement approach to collect quantitative data. Purposive sampling was used to select 76 bereaved relatives of older people living with chronic illnesses who had died in the previous 5 to10 months. Telephone interviews and a translated version of the Views of Informal Carers-Evaluation Services (VOICES) questionnaire were conducted. Data were analysed using the statistical package SPSS version 17.
FINDINGS: The overall quality of care received by older people living with chronic diseases during the last three months of life was described as 'good' (36%). However, in comparing the quality of care from different settings, most of the subjects (63%) thought that the quality of care at home should be rated as 'poor'. During the last twelve months, 35% of the respondents rated pain and poor appetite as the main symptoms, while 25% described experiencing 'worry' related to being at the end of life. The severity of many symptoms increased during the last three months of life; 21% of carers recommended that pain caused the most suffering to their relatives at 'all times', when compared with other symptoms of end of life. Around 21-35% reported that their relatives 'sometimes' experienced worry, low mood, breathlessness and oedema. During the last three days of life, it was reported by 97% of respondents that their relatives spent all of their time in hospital, and no respondents reported that their relatives had died at home.
CONCLUSION: The study indicates that older people living with chronic diseases in Thailand are less likely to access specialist palliative care and are more likely to have poor symptom control at the end of life. It indicates that health services may not be meeting patients' needs and that there was clearly insufficient healthcare provision at home for older people to help them to manage their symptoms such as pain and breathlessness.
INTRODUCTION: Palliative care coverage and opioid consumption in India are relatively low compared with global data. The literature suggests commonplace concealment and collusion in withholding information, but these hypotheses lack evidence.
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to develop an explanatory evidence-based model of stigma, communication and access to cancer palliative care in India that can be used to develop, test and implement future interventions.
DESIGN: This cross-sectional qualitative study sampled advanced cancer patients (n=10), their family caregivers (n=10) and oncologists (n=10). Grounded theory procedures were utilised to analyse transcripts, and a theoretical model generated.
SETTING: A tertiary teaching hospital in South India.
RESULTS: The model explains how stigma associated with communicating a diagnosis of advanced cancer is enacted by treating oncologists, family members and community. This leads to patient expectations of cure and futile treatment uptake. Patients commonly only present needs with respect to pain, not within psychological, social or spiritual domains, likely due to the lack of patients' insight into their diagnosis and prognosis. As a result of oncologists' and families' unwillingness to disclose the prognosis, and patient focus on pain due to their lack of insight, palliative care clinicians view their services as under-utilised, and patients perceive palliative care as a pain management service that is not 'different' from other clinical services. Advanced care needs and purchase of futile treatments lead to lost employment among families, increased family debt and high care costs, which are rarely disclosed due to their unwillingness to discuss their needs.
CONCLUSION: Our novel theoretical model is an essential first step to ensure that complex interventions are plausible, with mechanisms of action that address the needs of relevant stakeholders. A family-centred approach with an oncology workforce skilled in communication and an enabled patient population could increase access to palliative care, and improved outcomes may be attainable.
Background: Early specialized palliative care improves quality of life of patients with advanced cancer, and guidelines encourage its integration into standard oncology care. However, many patients fail to obtain timely palliative/supportive care evaluations, particularly in limited-resource settings. We aimed to determine the proportion of patients with advanced cancer who received an assessment of symptoms and were referred to supportive and palliative care services during the first year after diagnosis in a Mexican hospital.
Methods: Individuals with newly diagnosed advanced solid tumors and 1 year of follow-up at the oncology clinics in the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Medicas y Nutricion Salvador Zubiran in Mexico City from October 2015 to April 2016 were included in this retrospective study.
Results: Seventy-seven patients were included. Forty-two (54.5%) were referred to the various supportive care services during the first year after diagnosis, and 23 (29.8%) were referred to the palliative care clinic. The most commonly assessed symptoms by oncologists were pain (77.9%), anorexia (74.0%), fatigue (68.8%), and nausea (55.8%), while depression/anxiety were evaluated in 10 (12.9%) patients. The oncologist offered to clarify treatment goals in 39 (50.6%) cases and evaluated the understanding of diagnosis/illness and prognosis in 22 (28.5%).
Conclusion: Palliative and supportive care services were widely underutilized, which may be related to a lack of standardized symptom assessments and poor end-of-life communication. Novel strategies are needed to improve the implementation of tools for systematic symptom assessment and to optimize the integration of supportive care interventions into oncology care in developing countries.
BACKGROUND: Ensuring palliative care for all under a new global health policy must include key populations, that is, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, and sex workers. Accessibility and quality of care have not been investigated in lower and middle-income countries where civil rights are the weakest.
AIM: To examine the accessibility to, and experiences of, palliative care for key populations in Zimbabwe.
DESIGN: Qualitative study using thematic analysis of in-depth interviews and focus groups.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: A total of 60 key population adults and 12 healthcare providers and representatives of palliative care and key population support organisations were interviewed in four sites (Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Masvingo/Beitbridge).
RESULTS: Participants described unmet needs and barriers to accessing even basic elements of palliative care. Discrimination by healthcare providers was common, exacerbated by the politico-legal-economic environment. Two dominant themes emerged: (a) minimal understanding of, and negligible access to, palliative care significantly increased the risk of painful, undignified deaths and (b) discriminatory beliefs and practices from healthcare providers, family members and the community negatively affected those living with life-limiting illness, and their wishes at the end of life. Enacted stigma from healthcare providers was a potent obstacle to quality care.
CONCLUSION: Discrimination from healthcare providers and lack of referrals to palliative care services increase the risk of morbidity, mortality and transmission of infectious diseases. Untreated conditions, exclusion from services, and minimal family and social support create unnecessary suffering. Public health programmes addressing other sexually taboo subjects may provide guidance.
Background: Patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) and patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are amenable to integrated palliative care (PC); however, despite the recommendation by various healthcare organizations, these patients have limited access to integrated PC services. In this study, we present the protocol of a feasibility prospective study that aims to explore if an "early integrated PC" intervention can be performed in an acute setting (cardiology and pulmonology wards) and whether it will have an effect on (i) the satisfaction of care and (ii) the quality of life and the level of symptom control of CHF/COPD patients and their informal caregivers.
Methods: A before-after intervention study with three phases, (i) baseline phase where the control group receives standard care, (ii) training phase where the personnel is trained on the application of the intervention, and (iii) intervention phase where the intervention is applied, will be carried out in cardiology and pulmonology wards in the University Hospital Leuven for patients with advanced CHF/COPD and their informal caregivers. Eligible patients (both control and intervention group) and their informal caregivers will be asked to complete the Palliative Outcome Scale, the CANHELP Lite, and the Advance Care Planning Questionnaire at the inclusion moment and 3 months after hospital discharge.
Discussion: The present study will assess the feasibility of carrying out PC-focused studies in acute wards for CHF/COPD patients and draw lessons for the further integration of PC alongside standard treatment. Further, it will measure the quality of life and quality of care of patients and thus shed light on the care needs of this population. Finally, it will evaluate the potential efficacy of the "early integrated palliative care" by comparing against existing practices..
BACKGROUND: Many countries developed supportive measures for palliative home care, such as financial incentives or multidisciplinary palliative home care teams. For policy makers, it is important to evaluate the use of these national palliative home care supportive measures on a population level.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: Using routinely-collected data on all deaths in Belgium in 2012 (n = 107,847) we measured the use of four statutory supportive measures, specifically intended for patients who have obtained the legal palliative status, and three non-statutory supportive measures. Factors associated with uptake were analysed using multivariable logistic regression. Of all deaths of adult home-dwelling persons in Belgium (n = 87,007), 17.9 percent used at least one statutory supportive measure and 51.5 percent used at least one non-statutory supportive measure. In those who died of an illness indicative of palliative care needs 33.1 percent used at least one statutory supportive measure and 62.2 percent used at least one non-statutory supportive measure. Younger people and persons dying from cancer were more likely to use a statutory policy measure. Older people and persons dying from COPD were most likely to use a non-statutory policy measure. Women, non-single people, and those living in less urbanised areas were most likely to use any supportive measure.
CONCLUSIONS: Statutory supportive measures for palliative home care are underused, even in a subpopulation of persons with potential palliative care needs. Policy makers should stimulate an equitable uptake, and reducing the observed inequalities is an important focus for health care policy.
Radiotherapy is an essential component of cancer therapy. Lack of access to radiotherapy in less-developed countries prevents its use for both cure and symptom relief, resulting in a significant disparity in patient suffering. Several recent initiatives have highlighted the need for expanded access to both palliative medicine and radiotherapy globally. Yet, these efforts have remained largely independent, without attention to overlap and integration. This review provides an update on the progress toward global palliative radiotherapy access and proposes a strategic framework to address further scale-up. Synergies between radiotherapy, palliative medicine, and other global health initiatives will be essential in bringing palliative radiotherapy to patients around the globe.
BACKGROUND: While disparities in end-of-life care have been well-documented, explanations for the persistence of disparities are less clear. This study sought to examine diverse perceptions of end-of-life care, especially regarding how medical professionals can better serve all populations.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate similarities and differences in end-of-life care preferences, across racial and ethnic groups.
DESIGN: This work consists of a qualitative study utilizing in-depth focus group discussions.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Six community-based focus groups were conducted with a total of 39 participants. Two groups were composed of African American participants, 2 had Latino participants, and 2 groups had white participants.
RESULTS: Analysis produced 3 major themes: (1) clear, comprehensive, and culturally relevant provider-patient communication regarding serious illness; (2) provider characteristics and competency; and (3) health system supports and barriers. Although all groups had individuals who expressed a strong preference for direct communication, individuals varied within groups. All groups discussed concerns that the costs of care are high and that financial considerations are given more importance than high-quality care. Groups diverged in their focus on provider characteristics and feelings of marginalization. African American and Latino groups emphasized a desire to match characteristics with providers, and African American groups discussed that their marginalization in the health-care system requires hypervigilance to receive high-quality care.
CONCLUSIONS: Improvements in care would come from acknowledging diversity within groups, provider demonstration of comfort and competence, more effective care coordination, and recruitment of providers who share similar characteristics with the communities they serve.
Kidney palliative care is a growing discipline within nephrology. Kidney palliative care specifically addresses the stress and burden of advanced kidney disease through the provision of expert symptom management, caregiver support, and advance care planning with the goal of optimizing quality of life for patients and families. The integration of palliative care principles is necessary to address the multidimensional impact of advanced kidney disease on patients. In particular, patients with advanced kidney disease have a high symptom burden and experience greater intensity of care at the end of life compared with other chronic serious illnesses. Currently, access to kidney palliative care is lacking, whether delivered by trained kidney care professionals or by palliative care clinicians. These barriers include a gap in training and workforce, policies limiting access to hospice and outpatient palliative care services for patients with ESKD, resistance to integrating palliative care within the nephrology community, and the misconception that palliative care is synonymous with end-of-life care. As such, addressing kidney palliative care needs on a population level will require not only access to specialized kidney palliative care initiatives, but also equipping kidney care professionals with the skills to address basic kidney palliative care needs. This article will address the role of kidney palliative care for patients with advanced kidney disease, describe models of care including primary and specialty kidney palliative care, and outline strategies to improve kidney palliative care on a provider and system level.
Background In Denmark, patients who are terminally ill have the right to drug reimbursement due to terminal illness (DRTI). DRTI, a proxy marker of planned end-of-life care, is intended to be equally accessible regardless of socioeconomic position. This study examined social and socioeconomic differences in DRTI among Danish patients who are terminally ill.
Methods This cross-sectional study based on individual-level nationwide data included all patients dying from cancer, dementia, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic liver disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes or stroke in 2006–2015 (n=307 188). We analysed associations between social and socioeconomic position (education, income, cohabiting status, migrant status and employment) and DRTI. Prevalence ratios (PR) and 95% CIs were estimated using log-linear models adjusted for age, gender, comorbidity, cause of death and residence.
Results Overall, 27.9% of patients received DRTI (n=85 616). A substantial difference in likelihood of receiving DRTI was observed among patients with a social and socioeconomic profile associated with the highest versus lowest probability of DRTI (adjusted PR 1.44, 95% CI 1.18 to 1.75). The probability of DRTI was higher among patients with high income compared with low income (adjusted PR 1.22, 95% CI 1.17 to 1.26). Also, living with a partner and being immigrant or descendant of such were associated with higher probability of DRTI compared with living alone and of Danish origin, whereas employment was associated with lower probability of DRTI compared with retirement.
Conclusion Social and socioeconomic position was associated with the likelihood of receiving DRTI, which indicates that planned end-of-life care is not equally accessible in Denmark.
Importance: It is not known whether racial/ethnic differences in receipt of palliative care are attributable to different treatment of minorities or lower utilization of palliative care at the relatively small number of hospitals that treat a large portion of minority patients.
Objective: To assess the association of receipt of palliative care among patients with metastatic cancer with receipt of treatment at minority-serving hospitals (MSHs) vs non-MSHs.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective cohort study used Participant Use Files of the National Cancer Database, a prospectively maintained, hospital-based cancer registry consisting of all patients treated at more than 1500 US hospitals, to collect data from individuals older than 40 years with metastatic prostate, lung, colon, and breast cancer, diagnosed from January 1, 2004, to December 31, 2015. Data were accessed in October 2017, and the analysis was performed in July 2018.
Exposures: Hospitals in the top decile in terms of the proportion of black and Hispanic patients for each cancer type were defined as MSHs.
Main Outcomes and Measures: A multilevel logistic regression model that estimated the odds of palliative care was fit, adjusting for year of diagnosis, sex, race/ethnicity, insurance, income, educational level, and cancer type, with an interaction term between cancer type and MSH status and a hospital-level random intercept to account for unmeasured hospital characteristics.
Results: A total of 601 680 individuals (mean [SD] age, 67.4 [11.4] years; 95% CI, 67.2-67.6 years; 314 279 [52.2%] male; 475 039 [78.9%] white) were studied. In total, 130 813 patients (21.7%) received palliative care, ranging from 102 019 (25.4%) with lung cancer to 9966 (11.1%) with colon cancer. In total, 16 435 black individuals (20.0%) and 3551 Hispanic individuals (15.9%) received palliative care vs 106 603 non-Hispanic white individuals (22.5%) (P < .001). The MSH patients were less likely than the non-MSH patients to receive palliative care, regardless of race/ethnicity (12 692 [18.0%] vs 118 121 [22.3%]; P = .002). In an adjusted analysis, treatment at an MSH had a statistically significant association with lower odds of receiving palliative care (odds ratio, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.53-0.84).
Conclusions and Relevance: Although the factors associated with minority patients' receipt of palliative care are complex, in this study, treatment at MSHs was associated with significantly lower odds of receiving any palliative care in an adjusted analysis, but black and Hispanic race/ethnicity was not. These findings suggest that the site of care is associated with race/ethnicity-based differences in palliative care.
BACKGROUND: Lower extremity amputation is common among patients with ESRD, and often portends a poor prognosis. However, little is known about end-of-life care among patients with ESRD who undergo amputation.
METHODS: We conducted a mortality follow-back study of Medicare beneficiaries with ESRD who died in 2002 through 2014 to analyze patterns of lower extremity amputation in the last year of life compared with a parallel cohort of beneficiaries without ESRD. We also examined the relationship between amputation and end-of-life care among the patients with ESRD.
RESULTS: Overall, 8% of 754,777 beneficiaries with ESRD underwent at least one lower extremity amputation in their last year of life compared with 1% of 958,412 beneficiaries without ESRD. Adjusted analyses of patients with ESRD showed that those who had undergone lower extremity amputation were substantially more likely than those who had not to have been admitted to-and to have had prolonged stays in-acute and subacute care settings during their final year of life. Amputation was also associated with a greater likelihood of dying in the hospital, dialysis discontinuation before death, and less time receiving hospice services.
CONCLUSIONS: Nearly one in ten patients with ESRD undergoes lower extremity amputation in their last year of life. These patients have prolonged stays in acute and subacute health care settings and appear to have limited access to hospice services. These findings likely signal unmet palliative care needs among seriously ill patients with ESRD who undergo amputation as well as opportunities to improve their care.