Background: Palliative care has improved the quality of end-of-life (EOL) care and lowered the health care cost of cancer, and these benefits should be extended to patients with other serious illnesses including end-stage kidney disease. We evaluated the quality of EOL care, survival probabilities, and health care costs for dialysis patients in their last month of life.
Methods: We conducted a population-based study and analyzed data from Taiwan’s Longitudinal Health Insurance Database, which contains claims information of patient medical records, health care costs, and insurance system exit dates (our proxy for death between 2006 and 2011).
Results: Data of 1177 adult patients who died of chronic hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis were investigated. The mean age of these patients was 69.7 ± 11.9 years, and 585 (49.7%) were women. Some patients with dialysis received cardiopulmonary resuscitation (66.9%), died in a hospital (65.0%), or were admitted to an intensive care unit (51.0%) in the last month of life. We further classified these patients into two groups, namely dialysis with cancer (DC) (n = 149) and dialysis without cancer (D) (n = 1028). Only 19 dialysis patients received palliative care, and the proportion of patients receiving palliative care was higher in the DC group than in the D group (11.4% vs. 0.2%). The mean health care costs per person during the final month of life was similar between the DC and D groups (USD 2755 ± 259 vs. USD 2827 ± 88). Multivariate logistic regression showed that the DC group had lower odds of receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) (OR: 0.39, CI = 0.26–0.56, p < 0.001) procedures, higher odds of longer hospital stays than the third quartile (> 25 days) (OR: 1.52, CI = 1.01–2.29, p = 0.0046), and higher odds of being hospitalized more than once (OR: 2.26, CI = 1.42–3.59, p = 0.001) than the D group in the last month of life after adjustments.
Conclusions: DC patients received hospice care more frequently, received CPR less frequently, and had similar health care costs. DC patients also had a higher risk of a hospital stay that lasted more than 25 days and more than one hospitalization compared with D patients in the final month of life.
OBJECTIVES: Older patients with end-stage renal disease are willing participants in advance care planning but just over 10% are engaged in this process. Nephrologists fear such conversations may upset patients and so tend to avoid these discussions. This approach denies patients the opportunity to discuss their end-of-life care preferences. Many patients endure medically intensive end-of-life scenarios as a result. This study aims to explore the rationale underpinning nephrologists' clinical decision-making in the management of older patients with end-stage renal disease and to make recommendations that inform policymakers and enhance advance care planning for this patient group.
METHODS: A qualitative interview study of 20 nephrologists was undertaken. Nephrologists were asked about their management of end-stage renal disease in older patients, conservative management, dialysis withdrawal and end-of-life care. Eligible participants were nephrologists working in Ireland. Five nephrologists participated in a recorded focus group and 15 nephrologists participated in individual digitally recorded telephone interviews. Semistructured interviews were conducted; thematic analysis was used to distil the results.
RESULTS: Three key themes emerged: barriers to advance care planning; barriers to shared decision-making; and avoidance of end-of-life care discussion.
CONCLUSIONS: Advance care planning is not an integral part of the routine care of older patients with end-stage renal disease. Absence of formal training of nephrologists in how to communicate with patients contributes to poor advance care planning. Nephrologists lack clinical experience of conservatively managing end-stage renal disease and end-of-life care in older patients. Key policy recommendations include formal communication skills training for nephrologists and development of the conservative management service.
Confrontés à des soins exigeants, parfois vitaux, quelle place reste-t-il pour la réflexivité et la considération de ce qui resiste en soi. La sensation d'une mise en impasse, vécue seul ou à plusieurs, peut alors traverser tous les acteurs. Dans ce contexte, un travail de conflictualité appellerait une déconstruction patiente pour chaque acteur, dans la sécurité d'un partenariat soignant-soigné et un exercice interdisciplinaire.
BACKGROUND: Economic evaluations of advance care planning (ACP) in people with chronic kidney disease are scarce. However, past studies suggest ACP may reduce healthcare costs in other settings. We aimed to examine hospital costs and outcomes of a nurse-led ACP intervention compared with usual care in the last 12 months of life for older people with end-stage kidney disease managed with haemodialysis.
METHODS: We simulated the natural history of decedents on dialysis, using hospital data, and modelled the effect of nurse-led ACP on end-of-life care. Outcomes were assessed in terms of patients' end-of-life treatment preferences being met or not, and costs included all hospital-based care. Model inputs were obtained from a prospective ACP cohort study among dialysis patients; renal registries and the published literature. Cost-effectiveness of ACP was assessed by calculating an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), expressed in dollars per additional case of end-of-life preferences being met. Robustness of model results was tested through sensitivity analyses.
RESULTS: The mean cost of ACP was AUD$519 per patient. The mean hospital costs of care in last 12 months of life were $100,579 for those who received ACP versus $87,282 for those who did not. The proportion of patients in the model who received end-of-life care according to their preferences was higher in the ACP group compared with usual care (68% vs. 24%). The incremental cost per additional case of end-of-life preferences being met was $28,421. The greatest influence on the cost-effectiveness of ACP was the probability of dying in hospital following dialysis withdrawal, and costs of acute care.
CONCLUSION: Our model suggests nurse-led ACP leads to receipt of patient preferences for end-of-life care, but at an increased cost.
BACKGROUND: In Germany, practice patterns of conservative renal care (CRC), dialysis withdrawal (DW), and concomitant palliative care in patients who choose these options are unknown.
METHOD: A survey was designed including 13 structured and one open questions on the management and frequency of CRC and DW, local palliative care structure, and fundamentals of the decision-making process, and addressed to the head physicians of all renal centers (n = 193) of a non-profit renal care provider (KfH - Kuratorium für Dialyse und Nierentransplantation, Neu-Isenburg, Germany).
RESULTS: Response rate was 62.2% (n = 122 centers) comprising 14,197 prevalent dialysis patients and 159,652 renal outpatients. Two-thirds of the respondents were men (85% in the age group between 45 and 64 years). Mean time of experience in renal medicine was 22.2 years in men, 20.8 years in women. 94% of all centers provided CRC with a different frequency and proportion of patients (mean 8.4% of the center population, median 5%, range 0-50%). Mean proportion of DW was 2.85% per year (median 2%, range 1-15%). Physicians and center features were not significantly associated with utilization of CRC or DW. Palliative care management varied including local palliative teams, support by general physicians, or by the renal team itself. Hospice care was only established in patients undergoing CRC. Fundamentals of the decision-making process were the desire of the patient (90% in CRC, 67% in DW). Patients undergoing CRC changed their opinion towards treatment modality "frequently" in 18% of the cases, "occasionally" in 73%. Physicians' decisions were mostly driven by presumed fatal prognosis and poor physical or mental conditions of the individual patient. Different barriers to provide palliative care for the renal population like lack of education in palliative medicine, shortness of staff, lack of financial resources, and local palliative care structures were reported.
CONCLUSION: Compared to international numbers, in Germany, proportion of CRC and DW reported by non-profit renal centers is in the lower range. Center practice of palliative care management varies and is driven by availability of local palliative care resources and presumably by attitudes of the renal teams. Quality of palliative care and the decision-making process need further evaluation.
BACKGROUND: The population of end-stage renal failure (ESRF) receiving dialysis treatment is increasing worldwide. For most patients with ESRF, dialysis can extend their life. However, treatment can be demanding and time-consuming. Despite dialysis treatment, many patients continue to experience various sufferings.
METHODS: A qualitative study was conducted with semi-structured interviews to explore the experiences of suffering of ESRF patients on maintenance dialysis in Malaysia. The results were thematically analyzed.
RESULTS: Nineteen ESRF patients were interviewed. The themes and subthemes were: (I) physical suffering-physical symptoms and functional limitations, (II) psychological suffering-the emotions and thoughts of suffering, (III) social suffering-healthcare-related suffering and burdening of others and (IV) spiritual suffering-the queries of suffering.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings may help healthcare professionals to fill in the gaps in the delivery of best renal palliative care.
BACKGROUND: Despite the increasing use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agent (ESA) in patients receiving dialysis, few studies have examined the benefits of ESA for patients with chronic kidney disease receiving palliative care.
OBJECTIVE: We designed a retrospective observational study to evaluate the effect of ESA in treating anemia of renal disease among adult patients receiving palliative care instead of dialysis. The primary objective was to assess whether ESA can reduce the transfusion burden and hospitalization.
RESULTS: Thirty-nine patients receiving ESA were matched with a control group of 39 patients without ESA. Their mean age and glomerular filtration rates were 76.7 (10.2) years and 11.6 (5.7) mL/min/1.73 m2, respectively. Baseline hemoglobin levels were comparable in the ESA and control groups; their corresponding values were 10.2 (1.5) and 10.1 (1.4) g/dL. During 1-year observation period, 34 units of red cell transfusion occurred in patients receiving ESA, whereas 128 units of red cell were transfused to patients in control group. Patients in the control group had higher transfusion rate (incidence rate ratio [IRR]: 3.63; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.49-5.31; P < .00001) and higher admission rates (IRR: 2.34; 95% CI: 1.80-3.03; P < .000001) than the ESA group even after adjustment for comorbidities.
CONCLUSIONS: High disease burden of palliative care among patients with stage 4 to 5 chronic kidney disease was reflected by transfusion requirement and hospitalization rates, both of which were shown to be significantly ameliorated by ESA treatment.
BACKGROUND: Latinos with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) have worse mental and kidney composite health-related quality of life (HRQOL) scores compared to non-Latino ESRD patients. Latino ESRD patients uniquely report that social factors (e.g., lack of care coordination, food insecurity, and low health literacy) and mental health influence their HRQOL. We developed a culturally tailored peer navigator (PN) intervention to improve the HRQOL of Latinos on hemodialysis.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the feasibility of the PN intervention.
DESIGN: Single-arm prospective study. The PN provided individualized support with advance care planning, care coordination, and counseling about the importance of diet and mental health.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Latino with ESRD receiving scheduled outpatient thrice-weekly hemodialysis or reliant on emergency-only hemodialysis in Denver.
MAIN MEASURES: Recruitment, retention rates, data completeness, intervention dose, patient- and staff-reported satisfaction with the intervention.
RESULTS: Of 49 eligible patients, 40 (82%) agreed to participate. The majority of participants received scheduled outpatient hemodialysis (75%), 20 were women (50%), with a mean (standard deviation [SD]) age of 56 (13) years. No participants withdrew from the intervention. One participant died. The mean (SD) number of PN visits per participant was 7 (2) and the mean (SD) length of the visits was 97 minutes (49). The majority of visits took place at the hemodialysis facility (59%) and home (27%). The vast majority of participants reported that the PN improved their quality of life as a patient on hemodialysis (95%).
CONCLUSIONS: The PN intervention achieved feasibility goals and was well received by participants.
Our cellphones rang. Sally, a long-timediabetic who had recently restarted dialysis after decades with a transplant was onthe line from the Emergency Department. She seldom called us directly, but now she was panicky and shouting into the phone.“If this is the way it’s going to be, if my mind is going to be messed up, then I might as well quit dialysis. I don’t want tol ive this way.”She was stuttering and confused,possibly related to the newly diagnosedosteomyelitis or its treatment, but she was oriented enough to know what she was saying. She’d had this conversation many times with her nephrology team. Sally had weathered innumerable complications of type 1 diabetes over more than 50 years and had watched many of her counter-parts deteriorate and die. Sally was never one to say,“I quit,”but she always articulated the importance of quality of life over quantity. As she often told us,“There are worse things than death.
Introduction: To determine the prevalence, severity, and change in symptoms experienced by dialysis patients following the introduction of use of a symptom-reporting questionnaire in nephrology clinic.
Methods: This is an observational study of 160 prevalent dialysis patients. Palliative care Outcome Scale symptom (POS-renal) questionnaires modified for patients with end-stage kidney disease were completed at baseline and follow-up (median 3 months), with results available to nephrologists at clinic appointments.
Findings: The baseline prevalence of individual symptoms ranged from 15% to 66%. The most common symptoms were lack of energy (66%) and poor mobility (58%). The median number of symptoms was 7/17 (interquartile range [IQR]: 4-10). Forty-nine percent of patients rated at least 1 symptom as severe or overwhelming. At follow-up, the median number of symptoms experienced was unchanged at 7/17 (IQR: 3-10). However, there was considerable flux in symptom severity. On average, individual symptoms that were present at baseline improved in 56% of patients and worsened in 18%; only 26% had stable symptom severity. Individual symptoms newly occurred in 8% to 20% of patients between time points, with 77% of patients experiencing at least 1 new symptom. The percent of patients rating at least 1 symptom as severe or overwhelming was reduced from 49% to 39% (P = .040).
Conclusions: Use of the POS-renal questionnaire identified a high symptom burden. The presence and severity of symptoms changed dramatically over a short follow-up period, highlighting the need for regular surveillance of symptoms in the dialysis population. Routine use of a symptom questionnaire in clinic may be useful for the identification and management of symptoms in dialysis patients.
BACKGROUND: Few studies have explored dialysis patients' perspectives on dialysis decision-making and end-of-life-care (EoLC) preferences. We surveyed a racially diverse cohort of maintenance dialysis patients in the Cleveland, OH, USA, metropolitan area.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, we administered a 41-item questionnaire to 450 adult chronic dialysis patients. Items assessed patients' knowledge of their kidney disease as well as their attitudes toward chronic kidney disease (CKD) treatment issues and EoLC issues.
RESULTS: The cohort included 67% Blacks, 27% Caucasians, 2.8% Hispanics, and 2.4% others. The response rate was 94% (423/450). Most patients considered it essential to obtain detailed information about their medical condition (80.6%) and prognosis (78.3%). Nearly 19% of respondents regretted their decision to start dialysis. 41% of patients would prefer treatment(s) aimed at relieving pain rather than prolonging life (30.5%), but a majority would want to be resuscitated (55.3%). Only 8.4% reported having a designated healthcare proxy, and 35.7% reported completing a living will. A significant percentage of patients wished to discuss their quality of life (71%), psychosocial and spiritual concerns (50.4%), and end-of-life issues (38%) with their nephrologist.
CONCLUSION: Most dialysis patients wish to have more frequent discussions about their disease, prognosis, and EoLC planning. Findings from this study can inform the design of future interventions.
OBJECTIVE: Hemodialysis (HD) is the most common renal replacement therapy for patients with end-stage renal disease in Taiwan. The use of HD in hospice care and its impact on terminal cancer patients remains unclear.
METHODS: Using claim data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database, all patients who died from cancer and claim data of their terminal admissions in hospice from 2007 to 2010. Those with a comorbid diagnosis of renal failure or who had health insurance claims data for HD were enrolled.
RESULTS: A total of 5482 subjects were identified, of whom 4484 received HD and 998 did not. The HD group was significantly correlated with a younger age and high costs of terminal hospice admission. After adjusting for age and gender, the HD group was positively associated with a long hospice stay, in-hospice death, bone/connective tissue/breast cancers, and secondary/metastatic cancers, but negatively associated with genitourinary cancer. Compared with Department of Health/municipal hospitals, patients at both national and private university-affiliated hospitals were less likely to undergo HD.
CONCLUSIONS: For terminal cancer patients under hospice care, HD was associated with a younger age, long terminal hospice stay, and high medical costs. Some types of cancers were associated with HD. University-affiliated hospitals played significant roles in non-HD renal supportive care. In-hospice HD is still common in Taiwan. Dialysis withdrawal and alternative care have space to promoting in hospice care.
Purpose: Between 2000 and 2012, the incident dialysis population in the United States increased by nearly 60%, most sharply among adults 75 years and older. End-of-life (EOL) conversations among dialysis patients are associated with better patient-centered outcomes and lower use of aggressive interventions in the last month of life. This study examined how health literacy may affect engagement, comprehension, and satisfaction with EOL conversations among elderly dialysis patients.
Design and Methods: Qualitative/descriptive study with semi-structured interviews about health literacy, EOL conversations, and goals of care with 31 elderly dialysis patients at 2 centers in Boston. Themes were interpreted in the context of Nutbeam's health literacy framework.
Results: Despite high mortality risk in this population, only 13% of patients had discussed EOL preferences with physicians, half had discussed EOL with their social network, and 25% of participants explicitly stated that they had never considered EOL preferences. Less than 30% of participants could correctly define terminology commonly used in EOL conversations. Analyses yielded 5 themes: (1) Misunderstanding EOL terminology; (2) Nephrologists reluctant to discuss EOL; (3) Patients conforming to socially constructed roles; (4) Discordant expectations and dialysis experiences; and (5) Reconciling EOL values and future care. Patients had limited understanding of EOL terminology, lacked of opportunities for meaningful EOL discussion with providers and family, resulting in uncertainty about future care.
Implications: Limited health literacy presents a substantial barrier to communication and could lead to older adults committing to an intensive pattern of care without adequate information. Clinicians should consider health literacy when discussing dialysis initiation.
Patients with end-stage renal disease supported on dialysis experience high morbidity and mortality. Little is known about family caregiver experiences during the disease. Qualitative research methods were used to explore the experiences of family caregivers caring for patients receiving dialysis. In-depth, semi-structured, in-person interviews were completed with 18 family caregivers in rural and urban settings. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using thematic and descriptive analysis. Major themes identified included challenges navigating the health system, caregiver burden, perceptions of palliative care, symptom management, and decision-making. Caregiver burdens are significant including physical, emotional, social, and economic dimensions. There is a need to recognize and improve support for family caregivers and increase collaboration with nephrology and palliative care services from commencement of dialysis until death and into bereavement.
BACKGROUND: No study has compared the effects of hemodialysis on the symptom burden of terminally ill and nonterminally ill end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients.
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to examine the effects of hemodialysis on the symptom burden of ESRD patients and compare the terminally ill and nonterminally ill groups.
DESIGN: This was a quantitative survey; for patients on hemodialysis, the survey was conducted at the beginning and end of the weekly cycle of hemodialysis sessions.
SETTING/SUBJECTS: A total of 211 ESRD patients were recruited in Taiwan, 47 of which were terminally ill (38 on hemodialysis) and 164 nonterminally ill (110 on hemodialysis).
MEASUREMENTS: Symptom burden was assessed using the Taiwanese version of the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory for kidney disease.
RESULTS: Being terminally ill predicted higher symptom severity (B = 0.604, p = 0.017), whereas hemodialysis predicted lower symptom severity (B = -0.614, p = 0.014) in ESRD patients. Nonterminally ill patients who were married or on hemodialysis experienced lower symptom severity (B = -0.604, p = 0.013 and B = -0.665, p = 0.017, respectively). Among terminally ill patients, neither hemodialysis nor other background characteristics predicted symptom severity. When hemodialysis was initiated, no change in symptom severity was observed in terminally ill and nonterminally ill patients.
CONCLUSIONS: The effects of hemodialysis on symptom burden were different between ESRD patients with different disease states. Hemodialysis predicted lower symptom severity only in nonterminally ill ESRD patients. Apart from dialysis, care providers should revisit the palliative approach for treating terminally ill ESRD patients to improve their quality of life.
BACKGROUND: End-stage kidney disease is associated with poor prognosis. Health care professionals must be prepared to address end-of-life issues and identify those at high risk for dying. A 6-month mortality prediction model for patients on dialysis derived in the United States is used but has not been externally validated.
AIM: We aimed to assess the external validity and clinical utility in an independent cohort in Canada.
DESIGN: We examined the performance of the published 6-month mortality prediction model, using discrimination, calibration, and decision curve analyses.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Data were derived from a cohort of 374 prevalent dialysis patients in two regions of British Columbia, Canada, which included serum albumin, age, peripheral vascular disease, dementia, and answers to the "the surprise question" ("Would I be surprised if this patient died within the next year?").
RESULTS: The observed mortality in the validation cohort was 11.5% at 6 months. The prediction model had reasonable discrimination (c-stat = 0.70) but poor calibration (calibration-in-the-large = -0.53 (95% confidence interval: -0.88, -0.18); calibration slope = 0.57 (95% confidence interval: 0.31, 0.83)) in our data. Decision curve analysis showed the model only has added value in guiding clinical decision in a small range of threshold probabilities: 8%-20%.
CONCLUSION: Despite reasonable discrimination, the prediction model has poor calibration in this external study cohort; thus, it may have limited clinical utility in settings outside of where it was derived. Decision curve analysis clarifies limitations in clinical utility not apparent by receiver operating characteristic curve analysis. This study highlights the importance of external validation of prediction models prior to routine use in clinical practice.
BACKGROUND: Renal Supportive/Palliative Care is gaining gradual recognition as a patient-centered care approach that should be integrated to the traditional disease-centered model of care, mainly in elder patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD). The objective of this study was to assess knowledge, perceptions, attitude, experience and interest in palliative care among renal care providers.
METHODS: Online survey, administered between May 23 to June 13, 2017 to members of the Brazilian Society of Nephrology (BSN). Participants self-reported knowledge and behaviors regarding renal palliative care.
RESULTS: A total of 3,738 e-mails were sent, 224 (6%) providers completed the survey. Most respondents were under 50 years old (68.5%) and were nephrologists (98.2%). A request from a competent patient to discontinue dialysis would not be honored by 46% and 63% would probably continue dialysis if a patient become severely demented. On the other hand, respondents with =15 years of experience were more prone to stop dialysis (P=0.01) in patients who became permanently and severely demented. Respondents working only in private practice were more willing to continue dialysis in a severely demented patient than those working in a public healthcare system or both (P=0.02). Additionally, 87% of respondents would probably withhold dialysis in a permanently unconscious patient and 92% probably would not resuscitate a patient with a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. Among factors that would have importance on a decision to not initiate dialysis, patient preferences (98.2%), advanced dementia (95%), poor clinical conditions (93.7%) and family wishes (92.3%) were top ranked by respondents. Most respondents routinely evaluate HRQoL (62%), pain and other symptoms (79%) and were very interested (96%) in improving knowledge about renal supportive care.
CONCLUSIONS: Brazilian nephrologists are often unaware of patient autonomy, more prone to withholding than withdrawing dialysis and deem wishes of the family quasi as important as patient preferences in the shared decision making process. Most Participants answered to evaluate pain and quality of life related to health (HRQoL) routinely and have great interest to learn about renal palliative care.
Patients with end stage kidney disease (ESKD) with severely impaired cognitive function have no survival benefit from dialysis. We therefore undertook a survey to explore the renal physicians' practices of withholding and withdrawal of dialysis treatment in vegetative state patients in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A cross sectional survey of 29 nephrology practices in UAE exploring physicians' practices in making decisions of withholding and withdrawal of dialysis treatment during provision end-of-life care for patients in persistent vegetative state (PVS).The majority of participants practice in governmental non-for-profit dialysis units (79%), and think they are well prepared to make decision with patients and family on issues of dialysis withdrawal and withholding (69%). If a chronic dialysis patient became permanently unconscious only few respondents (17%) indicated probability of stopping dialysis. On the other hand, more respondents (48%) reported that dialysis is likely to be withheld in PVS patients who develop kidney failure. In high risk or poor prognosis ESKD patients and given how likely they would consider each option independently, respondents reported they are likely to consider time-limited dialysis in 78% of the time followed by stopping (46%) or forgoing (27%) dialysis. Majority of the participants perceived that their decisions in providing renal care for PVS patients in UAE were influenced by the family sociocultural beliefs (76% of participants), the current hospital policies (72% of participants), and by Islamic beliefs (66% of participants). Only few perceived access to palliative care (30%) and treatment cost (17%) to have an impact on their decision making. Decisions of initiation and continuation of dialysis treatment to ESKD patients in PVS are prevalent among nephrology practices in UAE. Development of local guidelines based on the societal values along with early integration of palliative kidney failure management care would be required to improve the quality of provision of end-of-life renal care in UAE.
ABBREVIATIONS: ESKD: stage kidney disease; UAE: United Arab Emirates; PVS: persistent vegetative state; RPA: Renal Physicians Association; ASN: American Society of Nephrology; EMAN: Emirates Medical Association Nephrology Society; CPR: cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
The Act on Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment for Patients in Hospice and Palliative Care or at the End of Life came into effect on February 4th, 2018, in South Korea. Based on the Act, all Koreans over the age of 19 years can decide whether to refuse life-sustaining treatments at the end of life via advance directive or physician orders. Hemodialysis is one of the options designated in the Act as a life-sustaining treatment that can be withheld or withdrawn near death. However, hemodialysis has unique features. So, it is not easy to determine the best candidates for withholding/withdrawing hemodialysis at the end of life. Thus, it is necessary to investigate the meaning and implications of hemodialysis at the end of life with ethical consideration of futility and withholding or withdrawal of intervention.
Background: Many patients who receive chronic hemodialysis have a limited life expectancy comparable to that of patients with metastatic cancer. However, patterns of home palliative care use among patients receiving hemodialysis are unknown.
Objectives: We aimed to undertake a current-state analysis to inform measurement and quality improvement in palliative service use in Ontario.
Methods: We conducted a descriptive study of outcomes and home palliative care use by Ontario residents maintained on chronic dialysis using multiple provincial healthcare datasets. The period of study was the final year of life, for those died between January 2010 and December 2014.
Results: We identified 9611 patients meeting inclusion criteria. At death, patients were (median [Q1, Q3] or %): 75 (66, 82) years old, on dialysis for 3.0 (1.0-6.0) years, 41% were women, 65% had diabetes, 29.6% had dementia, and 13.9% had high-impact neoplasms, and 19.9% had discontinued dialysis within 30 days of death. During the last year of life, 13.1% received ⩾1 home palliative services. Compared with patients who had no palliative services, those who received home palliative care visits had fewer emergency department and intensive care unit visits in the last 30 days of life, more deaths at home (17.1 vs 1.4%), and a lower frequency of deaths with an associated intensive care unit stay (8.1 vs 37.8%).
Conclusions: Only a small proportion of patients receiving dialysis in Ontario received support through the home palliative care system. There appears to be an opportunity to improve palliative care support in parallel with dialysis care, which may improve patient, family, and health-system outcomes.