Purpose: This retrospective study aimed to evaluate the stability and fracture rates of osteolytic spinal bone metastases (SBM) in elderly patients following palliative radiotherapy (RT) and to derive prognostic factors for stability and survival.
Methods: A total of 322 patients aged at least 70 years received palliative RT at two major German academic medical centers or at the German Cancer Research Center. Stability assessment was based on the validated Taneichi score prior to RT and at 3 and 6 months after RT. The survival time following RT was assessed, and prognostic factors for stability and survival were analyzed.
Results: Prior to RT, 183 patients (57%) exhibited unstable SBM and 68 patients (21%) pathological fractures. At 3 and 6 months after RT, significant recalcification and stabilization were evident in 19% (23/118) and 40% (31/78) of surviving patients, respectively. Only 17 patients (5%) experienced new pathological fractures following RT. Tumor histology was found to significantly influence stabilization rates with only breast cancer patients exhibiting increased stabilization compared to patients with other histologies. The median survival time and 6-month survival rates following RT were 5.4 months (95% confidence interval 4.4-7.2 months) and 48%, respectively. The patients' performance status was found to be the strongest predictor for survival after RT in this patient cohort; further factors demonstrating a significant association with survival were the application of systemic treatment, the number of SBM and the primary tumor histology. To analyze the influence of age on survival after RT, study patients were stratified into 3 age groups (i.e., 70-74 years, 75-79 years, and >=80 years). The subgroup of patients aged at least 80 years showed a strong trend towards a worse survival time following RT compared to younger patients (i.e., 6-month survival rate 39% vs. 51%; p = 0.06, log-rank test).
Conclusions: Prognostic factors influencing overall survival such as performance status and histology should guide the choice for palliative RT for SBM. Strongly hypofractionated RT regimes may be advisable for most elderly patients considering the overall poor prognosis in order to reduce hospitalization times.
Objective: Little data about the management of drugs in terminally ill palliative care cancer patients is available. The present study aimed at describing the evolution of anticancer and non-anticancer treatments (NACTs) in cancer patients in palliative care units. The second objective was to identify factors leading to the medical decision to withdraw or not NACTs.
Methods: Data from 1,091 cancer patients hospitalized in palliative care units were prospectively collected in 2010-2011, through a multicenter, observational French cohort.
Results: The median overall survival after admittance in palliative care units was 15 days. Specific anticancer treatments were systematically stopped in the first 24 h in palliative care units, but for 4.5% of patients. Regarding NACTs, patients were heavily treated with strong opioids (74%), corticosteroids (51%), and antidepressants (21.8%) until death. Antiulcer agents (63.4%), antibiotics (25.7%), thrombosis prevention (21.8%), antidiabetics (7.6%), and transfusions (4%) were often also continuously prescribed. In multivariate analysis, ECOG PS 4 was an independent predictor of continuous prescription of morphine and an independent predictor of discontinuation of corticosteroids, proton-pump inhibitors, antidiabetics, and preventive anticoagulant therapy. Infection symptoms independently predicted continuous prescription of paracetamol. Paralysis and cancer palpable mass independently predicted corticosteroid withdrawal. Brain metastases independently predicted antiulcer withdrawal. Hemorrhage independently predicted preventive anticoagulant withdrawal. Availability to a venous access independently predicted paracetamol and antiulcer continuous prescriptions. Co-prescriptions independently predicted continuous prescriptions (antibiotics with antiulcer, antifungals with antibiotics) or withdrawal (preventive anticoagulant with antiplatelets and antifungals).
Conclusions: NACT prescription remained commonplace in terminally ill palliative cancer patients, although their benefit is questionable.
Spirituality has long served as a source of solace for many grievers following a loss. For other mourners, whose bereavement experience has been significantly challenged by struggles in their relationship with God and/or their faith community, the opposite is true. Complicated spiritual grief (CSG) is a spiritual crisis following the loss of a loved one. To assess CSG in samples of bereaved adults, a simple-to-use, multidimensional measure of spiritual crisis following loss called the Inventory of Complicated Spiritual Grief (ICSG) was previously developed and validated. However, subsequent research providing greater clarity about the construct of CSG supported the need to revise and update the ICSG. The goal of the present study was to establish the psychometric validity of a revised measure of CSG, called the Inventory of Complicated Spiritual Grief 2.0 (ICSG 2.0), with a large, diverse cohort of bereaved Christian adults (N = 440). Analyses of the bifurcated sample supported a three-factor model measuring insecurity with God, estrangement from the spiritual community, and disruption in religious practices. Further analyses supported the convergent and incremental validity of a 28-item scale relative to other theoretically similar instruments and measures of poor bereavement outcome, indicating the instrument’s research and clinical usefulness.
Background: Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) programs have expanded rapidly, but evaluating their impact on hospital care is challenging.
Objectives: To demonstrate how careful study design can reveal POLST's impact at hospital admission and why analyses of state registry data are unlikely to capture POLST's effects.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting and participants: Adult in-patients with Do Not Intubate and/or Do Not Resuscitate (DNR/I) orders in the electronic medical record at the time of discharge from Johns Hopkins Hospital over 18 months. For patients with unplanned readmissions within 30 days, records were reviewed to determine if a Maryland Medical Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) form was presented and for the time from readmission to a DNR/I order in the EMR. Analyses were stratified by whether patients could communicate or were accompanied by a proxy at readmission.
Results: Among 1,507 patients with DNR/I orders at discharge, 124 (8%) had unplanned readmissions, 112 (90%) could communicate or were accompanied by a proxy at readmission, and 12 (10%) could not communicate and were unaccompanied. For patients who were unaccompanied and could not communicate, MOLST significantly decreased the median time from readmission to DNR/I order (1.2 vs 27.1 hours, P = .001), but this association was greatly attenuated among patients who could communicate or were accompanied by a proxy (16.4 vs 25.4 hours P = .10).
Conclusion: Among patients who wanted to avoid intubation and/or CPR, MOLST forms were protective when the patient was unaccompanied by a healthcare proxy at admission and could not communicate. Fewer than 10% of patients met these criteria during unplanned readmissions, and state registry data does not allow this sub-population to be identified.
Background: Antibiotic use may increase hospital length of stay (LOS) among older patients with advanced cancer who are transitioned to comfort measures.
Methods: We studied a cohort of patients with advanced cancer aged =65 years who were transitioned to comfort measures during admission from July 1, 2014, through November 30, 2016. We evaluated the association between antibiotic exposure and LOS using a Poisson regression model adjusted for age, gender, cancer type, comorbidities, infection, and intensive care unit admission.
Results: Among 461 patients with advanced cancer, median age was 74 years (range: 65-99), 49.0% (n = 226) were female, and 20.6% (n = 95) had liquid tumors. Overall, 82.9% (n = 382) received =1 antibiotic and 64.6% (n = 298) had =1 infection diagnosis during hospitalization. Infection diagnoses commonly included sepsis (35%, n = 161/461), pneumonia (25%, n = 117/461), and urinary tract infection (14%, n = 66/461). Among those receiving antibiotics, the most common choices included vancomycin (79%, n = 300/382), cephalosporins (63%, n = 241/382), and penicillins (45%, n = 172/382). In a multivariable Poisson regression model, LOS was 34% longer (count ratio = 1.34, [95% confidence interval: 1.20-1.51]) among those exposed versus unexposed to antibiotics.
Conclusions: Antibiotic use among patients with advanced cancer who are transitioned to comfort measures is associated with longer LOS. These data illustrate the importance of tradeoffs associated with antibiotic use, such as unintended increased LOS, when striving for goal-concordant care near the end of life.
Background: The C-reactive protein/albumin (CRP/Alb) ratio has been reported as a prognostic factor of survival for patients with a variety of cancers. However, its prognostic impact for advanced cancer patients receiving palliative care remains presently unknown.
Objective: The present study assessed the prognostic value of the CRP/Alb ratio, and compared this with that of the Glasgow Prognostic Score (GPS) and Palliative Prognostic Index (PPI) in a cohort of advanced cancer patients receiving palliative therapy.
Methods: The medical records of 262 eligible patients who died of advanced cancer from February 1, 2013 to December 30, 2017 in the palliative care unit of the Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center were retrospectively reviewed for the analysis.
Results: The present results revealed that a CRP/Alb ratio =1.31 (hazard ratio [HR], 2.33 [1.78–3.05], p < 0.001) can predict poor prognosis through univariate analysis. In addition, the multivariate analysis revealed that CRP/Alb (HR, 2.09 [1.54–2.84], p < 0.001), GPS (HR, 1.81 [1.07–3.07], p < 0.001), and PPI (HR, 3.35 [2.25–4.99], p < 0.001) were all independent prognosis factors. To compare the discriminatory performance of the CRP/Alb ratio with that of other established prognostic indexes in palliative care settings, the c-statistics, integrated discriminatory improvement index, net reclassification index, and receiver operating characteristic curves were generated, and it was demonstrated that the CRP/Alb ratio (c-statistics, 0.64 [0.61–0.68]) was able to discriminate advanced cancer patients with different survivals, with analogous discriminatory ability as GPS (c-statistics, 0.63 [0.59–0.66]) and PPI (c-statistics, 0.64 [0.60–0.68]). Notably, the combination of multiple prognostic indexes exerted higher discriminatory ability, compared with any single predictive index (c-statistics, 0.69 [0.66–0.73], p < 0.001).
Conclusions: The present study suggests that the CRP/Alb ratio is a promising prognostic factor in predicting cancer patient survival in palliative care settings. Incorporating both objective parameters and the subjective index may improve the prediction accuracy of prognosis.
Background: The most important decision after diagnosing terminal cancer is whether to provide active therapy or withhold treatment.
Objective: To analyze the aggressiveness of care by evaluating systemic anticancer therapy (SACT) given near to death, describing this care and identifying factors that determine its use.
Design: This involves retrospective observational cohorts study.
Setting/Subjects: This involves patients with metastatic tumors who died at a University Hospital in Spain between 2015 and 2016.
Measurements: Data obtained from prescribing oncologists and patients' clinical records, type of cancer, and information on treatment. The dependent variable used was the interval between the date of the last dose and date of death.
Results: Ninety-four (32.60%) of 288 patients received SACT in the last month of life. This cohort had a higher frequency of lung cancer (OR: 1.58; CI 95%: 1.14-2.18), received more care from oncologist 2 (OR: 1.50; CI 95%: 1.08-2.08), had fewer last-line treatment cycles (OR: 1.28; CI 95%: 1.13-1.45), a lower subjective response (OR: 3.13; CI 95%: 1.34-7.29), less clinical benefit (OR: 2.38; CI 95%: 1.04-5.55), more visits to the Emergency Department (OR: 1.59; CI 95%: 1.06-2.38), and less care from the Palliative Care Unit (OR: 4.55; CI 95%: 2.69-7.70). In multivariate analysis, the predictors of having received SACT close to death remained: receiving fewer cycles of treatment (OR: 1.28; CI 95%: 1.12-1.47) and less palliative care (OR: 4.54; CI 95%: 2.56-7.69).
Conclusions: A third of cancer patients received SACT in the last month of life with less efficacy and poorer quality of care than patients not receiving it.
Introduction: Studies have shown aggressive cancer care at the end of life is associated with decreased quality of life, decreased median survival, and increased cost of care. This study describes the patients most likely to receive systemic anticancer therapy at the end of life in a community cancer institute.
Materials and Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study of 201 patients who received systemic anticancer therapy in our institution and died between July 2016 and April 2017. Data collected included primary malignancy, hospice enrollment, healthcare utilization, Oncology Care Model (OCM) enrollment, and clinical assessments at last office visit prior to a treatment decision before death. We defined our outcome variable as the receipt of anticancer treatment in the last 14 days of a patient's life. We evaluated 20 clinical exposure variables with respect to the outcome classes. Risk ratios along with their associated confidence intervals and P values were calculated. Significance was determined using the Benjamini-Hochberg procedure to account for multiple testing.
Results: Of the 201 patients who died of cancer, 36 (17%) received anticancer therapy within the last 14 days of life. Several risk factors were significantly positively associated with receiving anticancer therapy at the end of life including hospitalization within 30 days of end of life, number of hospitalizations per patient (=2), death in hospital, enrollment in OCM, and a diagnosis of hematologic malignancy.
Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate those enrolled in the OCM and those with hematologic malignancies have a higher risk of receiving anticancer therapy in the last 14 days of life. These observations highlight the need for better identifying the needs of high-risk patients and providing good quality care throughout the disease trajectory to better align end-of-life care with patients' wishes.
Background: The high burden of disease-oriented drugs among older adults with limited life expectancy raises important questions about the potential futility of care.
Aim: To describe the use of drugs of questionable clinical benefit during the last 3 months of life of older adults who died from life-limiting conditions.
Design: Longitudinal, retrospective cohort study of decedents. Death certificate data were linked to administrative and healthcare registries with national coverage in Sweden.
Setting: Older adults (=75 years) who died from conditions potentially amenable to palliative care between 1 January and 31 December 2015 in Sweden. We identified drugs of questionable clinical benefit from a set of consensus-based criteria.
Results: A total of 58,415 decedents were included (mean age, 87.0 years). During their last 3 months of life, they received on average 8.9 different drugs. Overall, 32.0% of older adults continued and 14.0% initiated at least one drug of questionable clinical benefit (e.g. statins, calcium supplements, vitamin D, bisphosphonates, antidementia drugs). These proportions were highest among younger individuals (i.e. aged 75–84 years), among people who died from organ failure and among those with a large number of coexisting chronic conditions. Excluding people who died from acute and potentially unpredictable fatal events had little influence on the results.
Conclusion: A substantial share of older persons with life-limiting diseases receive drugs of questionable clinical benefit during their last months of life. Adequate training, guidance and resources are needed to rationalize and deprescribe drug treatments for older adults near the end of life.
Background: In 2004, Aetna, a national health insurer, launched the Aetna Compassionate Care Program (ACCP) targeting members diagnosed with an advanced illness with a view to increase access to palliative care and hospice services.
Objective: The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of ACCP on health care utilization and hospice enrollment among enrolled members.
Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study comparing participants in ACCP to a matched control group using a propensity score method. The study group consisted of Aetna Medicare Advantage members who participated in the ACCP between January 2014 and June 2015. Potential control group members were those who were not identified by the predictive model nor were referred to the ACCP program through other means. The primary outcomes of interest were hospice use measured as percent of members electing hospice and median number of days in hospice; health care utilization and medical costs measured as rates and medical costs associated with acute inpatient admissions, emergency room, primary care, and specialty visits in the 30 and 90 days before death.
Results: Participants in the ACCP program were 36% more likely to enroll in hospice (79% vs. 58%, p < 0.0001) and had reduced acute inpatient medical costs ($4169 vs. $5863, p < 0.0001) driven primarily by fewer inpatient admissions (860 vs. 1017, p < 0.0001) in the last 90 days of life.
Conclusions: Advanced illness case management programs such as ACCP can improve access to hospice and improve patient outcomes while reducing unnecessary admissions in the last 90 days of life.
BACKGROUND: Patients with multiple myeloma, an incurable haematological cancer, often receive palliative care only late in their trajectory. Criteria for early referral are lacking.
AIM: To identify which patients might benefit from early integration, by identifying trajectories of health-related quality of life and the determinants for declining or poor Health related quality of life .
DESIGN: Prospective, longitudinal cohort study.
PARTICIPANTS: Multiple myeloma patients at all stages (newly diagnosed, first-line or second-line treatment, early or later treatment-free interval, refractory disease) from in- and outpatient units at 14 hospitals in England were recruited. In addition to clinical information and standardised Health related quality of life and psychological aspects, the Myeloma Patient Outcome Scale (MyPOS) measured palliative care concerns.
RESULTS: A total of 238 patients were recruited, on average 3.5 years (SD: 3.4) post-diagnosis. Latent mixture growth models identified four Health related quality of life trajectories. Classes 3 and 4 represent trajectories of stable poor Health related quality of life or declining Health related quality of life over an 8-month period. The strongest predictors of poor outcome at the end of follow-up were general symptom level (odds ratio (OR): 1.3, 95% CI: 1.0–1.6, p = 0.028), presence of clinically relevant anxiety (OR: 1.2, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.0–1.4, p = 0.019), and presence of pain (OR: 1.02, 95% CI: 1.0–1.1, p = 0.018), all being more predictive than demographic or clinical characteristics.
CONCLUSION: General symptom level, pain and presence of anxiety predict declining Health related quality of life in multiple myeloma. Identification of patients with palliative care needs should focus on assessing patient-reported symptoms and psychosocial well-being for identifying those at risk of deterioration.
PURPOSE: This study aimed to determine the impact of advanced care planning (ACP) on potentially avoidable hospital admissions at the end of life (EOL) among a sample of hospice-referred patients with cancer, in order to present actionable considerations for the practicing clinician.
METHODS: This study was designed as a retrospective cohort using electronic health record data that assessed likelihood of hospital admissions in the last 30 days of life for 1185 patients with a primary diagnosis of cancer, referred to hospice between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2015, at a large academic medical center. Inverse probability treatment weighting based on calculated propensity scores balanced measured covariates between those with and without ACP at baseline. Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated from estimated potential outcome means for the impact of ACP on admissions in the last 30 days of life.
RESULTS: A verified do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order prior to the last 30 days of life was associated with reduced odds of admission compared to those without a DNR (OR = 0.30; P < .001). An ACP note in the problem list prior to the last 30 days of life was associated with reduced odds of admission compared to those without an ACP note (OR = 0.71, P = .042), and further reduced odds if done 6 months prior to death (OR = 0.35, P < .001).
CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that dedicated ACP documentation is associated with fewer admissions in the last 30 days of life for patients with advanced cancer referred to hospice. Improving ACP processes prior to hospice referral holds promise for reducing EOL admissions.
BACKGROUND: The Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Paradigm is an effective advance care planning tool. However, barriers to implementation persist. In the United States, POLST program development occurs at the state-level. Substantial differences between states has left POLST implementation largely unstandardized. No peer-reviewed studies to date have evaluated state-based POLST program development over time.
OBJECTIVE: To assess and learn from the successes and barriers in state-based POLST program development over time to improve the reach of POLST or similar programs across the United States.
DESIGN: An exploratory, prospective cohort study that utilized semistructured telephone interviews was conducted over a 3-year period (2012-2015). Stakeholder representatives from state POLST coalitions (n = 14) were repeatedly queried on time-relevant successes, barriers, and innovations during POLST program development with levels of legislative and medical barriers rated 1 to 10. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using techniques grounded in qualitative theory.
RESULTS: All coalition representatives reported continuous POLST expansion with improved outreach and community partnerships. Significant barriers to expansion included difficulty in securing funding for training and infrastructure, lack of statewide metric systems to adequately assess expansion, lack of provider support, and legislative concerns. Medical barriers (mean [standard deviation]: 5.0 [0.2]) were rated higher than legislative (3.0 [0.6]; P < .001).
CONCLUSION: POLST programs continue to grow, but not without barriers. Based on the experiences of developing coalitions, we were able to identify strategies to expand POLST programs and overcome barriers. Ultimately the "lessons learned" in this study can serve as a guide to improve the reach of POLST or similar programs.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care can improve end-of-life care and reduce health care expenditures, but the optimal timing for initiation remains unclear. We sought to characterize the association between timing of palliative care, in-hospital deaths, and health care costs.
METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study including all patients who were diagnosed and died of colorectal cancer between 2004 and 2012 in Manitoba, Canada. The primary exposure was timing of palliative care, defined as no involvement, late involvement (less than 14 d before death), early involvement (14 to 60 d before death), and very early involvement (>60 d before death). The primary outcome was in-hospital deaths and end-of-life health care costs.
RESULTS: A total of 1607 patients were included; 315 (20%) received palliative care and 162 (10%) died in hospital. Compared to those who did not receive palliative care, patients with early and very early involvement experienced significantly decreased odds of dying in hospital (OR 0.21 95% CI 0.06-0.69 P = 0.01 and OR 0.11 95% CI 0.01-0.78 P = 0.03, respectively) and significantly lower health care costs. There were no significant differences in in-hospital deaths and health care costs between patients without palliative care and those who received late palliative care.
CONCLUSIONS: Early palliative care involvement is associated with decreased odds of dying in hospital and lower health care utilization and costs in patients with colorectal cancer. These findings provide real-world evidence supporting early integration of palliative care, although the optimal timing (early versus very early) remains a matter of debate.
BACKGROUND: Patients with serious mental disorders have poorer healthcare outcomes at the end of life and are at greater risk of dying from unnatural causes. Aims: To explore place of death and demographic and clinical correlates of unnatural causes of death in patients with serious mental disorders.
METHOD: Routinely collected patient data were used to explore bivariate and adjusted associations between covariates and natural/unnatural cause of death.
RESULTS: In multivariable analysis (n = 1029), dying at home (odds ratio (OR) = 1.87, 95% CI 1.03-3.40), 'other' locations (OR = 16.50, 95% CI 7.57-36.00), younger age (OR = 17.26, 95% CI 8.28-36.00) and a diagnosis other than schizophrenia spectrum disorder (OR = 1.69, 95% CI 1.04-2.73) were correlates of unnatural cause of death.
CONCLUSIONS: Deaths from unnatural causes were high and more likely to occur at home and non-healthcare settings. Unnatural causes of death were higher in younger patients with non-schizophrenia spectrum disorder diagnoses. Declaration of interest: F.G. has received support or honoraria for CME, advisory work and lectures from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Janssen, Lundbeck, Otsuka, Roche, and Sunovion, and has a family member with professional links to Lilly and GSK, including shares.
BACKGROUND: High rates of health care utilization at the end of life may be a marker of care that does not align with patient-stated preferences. We sought to describe trends in end-of-life care and factors associated with dying in hospital.
METHODS: We conducted a population-level retrospective cohort study of adult decedents in Ontario between Apr. 1, 2004, and Mar. 31, 2015, using linked administrative data sets, including the Office of the Registrar General for Deaths database, the hospital Discharge Abstract Database, the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System and physicians' billing claims (Ontario Health Insurance Plan). The primary outcome was place of death. To determine health care utilization and health care costs during the 6 months before death, we also identified admissions to hospital and to the intensive care unit, emergency department visits, and receipt of mechanical ventilation and palliative care.
RESULTS: In the last 6 months of life, 77.3% of 962 462 decedents presented to an emergency department, 68.4% were admitted to hospital, 19.4% were admitted to an intensive care unit, and 13.9% received mechanical ventilation. Forty-five percent of all deaths occurred in hospital, a proportion that declined marginally over time, whereas receipt of palliative care increased during terminal hospital admissions (from 14.0% in fiscal year 2004/05 to 29.3% in 2014/15, p < 0.001) and in the last 6 months of life (from 28.1% in 2004/05 to 57.7% in 2014/15, p < 0.001). The proportion of decedents who presented to the emergency department, were admitted to hospital or were admitted to the intensive care unit in the last 6 months of life did not change over 11 years. The mean total health care costs in the last 6 months of life were highest among those dying in hospital, with most costs attributable to inpatient medical care.
INTERPRETATION: Health care utilization in the last 6 months of life was substantial and did not decrease over time. It is possible that increased capacity for palliative, hospice and home care at the end of life may help to better align health system resources with the preferences of most patients, a topic that should be explored in future studies.
Background: The benefit of palliative chemotherapy (PC) in patients with advanced solid tumors and poor performance status (ECOG-PS) has not been prospectively validated, which makes treatment decision challenging. We aimed to evaluate the overall survival, factors associated with early mortality, and adoption of additional procedures in hospitalized patients with advanced cancer and poor ECOG-PS treated with PC.
Methods: We analyzed a retrospective cohort of patients with advanced cancer treated with PC during hospitalization at an academic cancer center in Brazil from 2014 to 2016. Eligibility criteria included: ECOG-PS 3–4 and start of first-line PC; or ECOG-PS = 2 and start of second or subsequent lines. Primary endpoint was 30-day survival from start of PC. Kaplan-Meier method was used for survival estimates and Cox regression for factors associated with 30-day mortality.
Results: Two hundred twenty-eight patients were eligible. 21.9, 66.7 and 11.4% of patients had ECOG-PS 2, 3 and 4, respectively. 49.6% had gastrointestinal tumors. Median follow-up was 49 days (range 1–507). 98.2% of patients had died, 32% during the index hospitalization. The 30-day and 60-day survival rates were 55.7 and 38.5%, respectively. 30% of patients were admitted to the intensive care unit. In a multivariable analysis, ECOG-PS 3/4 (HR 2.01; P = 0.016), hypercalcemia (HR 2.19; P = 0.005), and elevated bilirubin (HR 3.17; P < 0.001) were significantly associated with 30-day mortality.
Conclusions: Patients with advanced cancer and poor ECOG-PS had short survival after treatment with inpatient PC. Inpatient PC was associated with aggressive end-of-life care. Prognostic markers such as ECOG-PS, hypercalcemia and elevated bilirubin can contribute to the decision-making process for these patients.
Importance: Use of palliative care (PC) for patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) has increased recently. However, it is unknown if patients are receiving earlier referrals to PC.
Objective: To assess characteristics and trends of patients with CVD referred to PC.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Cohort study in which analysis of data from the multicenter Quality Data Collection Tool for Palliative Care registry from January 2, 2015, through December 29, 2017, included patients with CVD 18 years or older referred to initial PC consultation who had a documented palliative performance score (PPS) .
Exposures: Patients with CVD who presented for an initial PC visit.
Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was PPS. Secondary outcomes included symptoms and end-of-life documentation.
Results: Among 1801 patients (mean [SD] age, 77.7 [13.7] years) from 16 sites in the analysis, 875 (48.6%) were women and 1339 (74.3%) were white. A low PPS score (0%-30%), consistent with bedbound status, was recorded for 521 patients (28.9%), with no change through time. The most common moderate to severe symptoms were poor well-being, tiredness, anorexia, and dyspnea. Year of encounter was associated with improved symptoms of pain (odds ratio, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.05-1.50) and with constipation (odds ratio, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.03-1.69). No change through time was noted in other symptoms or end-of-life documentation. Although the proportion of referrals from general medicine increased from 43.2% (167 of 387) in 2015 to 52.9% (410 of 775) in 2017, the proportion of referrals from cardiologists decreased from 16.5% (64 of 387) in 2015 to 10.5% (81 of 775) in 2017. The proportion of patients referred to PC who were black decreased from 11.9% (46 of 387) in 2015 to 6.3% (49 of 775) in 2017. While 69.5% of all patients with CVD (1252 of 1801) had a primary diagnosis of heart failure, the proportion of non-heart failure CVD diagnoses, such as coronary artery disease and valvular heart disease, increased from 25.6% (99 of 387) in 2015 to 30.1% (233 of 775) in 2017.
Conclusions and Relevance: Patients with CVD demonstrated significant symptom burden, and there was no evidence in the registry of change in the PPSs of patients with CVD referred to PC through time. Cardiologists provided comparatively fewer referrals to PC for patients with CVD, and this proportion decreased through time. The proportion of racial and ethnic minorities referred to PC was small and decreased through time. These findings reinforce the need for cardiologists to be more engaged with PC and consider referring appropriate patients with CVD sooner.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The development of advance care plans (Plans) in general practice can be time consuming. End-of-life care should reflect an individual’s documented preferences. The aim of this study was to examine the content and implementation of Plans in hospital during end-of-life care.
METHODS: A retrospective cohort study of the hospital medical records of decedents aged =75 years was performed to assess Plan content and implementation.
RESULTS: Of the 536 decedents, 52 had a Plan. There were 17 cases where life-prolonging treatment was given and contradicted preferences listed in the Plan. This included instances of intubation, surgery and curative medication.
DISCUSSION: General practice staff investment in advance care planning should be reflected in the utilisation of Plans and, where medically indicated, respect for patients’ preferences.
BACKGROUND: transitions between care settings near the end-of-life for people with dementia can be distressing, lead to physical and cognitive deterioration, and may be avoidable.
OBJECTIVE: to investigate determinants of end-of-life hospital transitions, and association with healthcare use, among people with dementia.
DESIGN: retrospective cohort study.
SETTING: electronic records from a mental health provider in London, linked to national mortality and hospital data.
SUBJECTS: people with dementia who died in 2007-2016.
METHODS: end-of-life hospital transitions were defined as: multiple admissions in the last 90 days (early), or any admission in the last three days of life (late). Determinants were assessed using logistic regression.
RESULTS: of 8,880 people, 1,421 (16.0%) had at least one end-of-life transition: 505 (5.7%) had early, 788 (8.9%) late, and 128 (1.5%) both types. Early transitions were associated with male gender (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.11-1.59), age (>90 vs <75 years OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.49-0.97), physical illness (OR 1.52, 95% CI 1.20-1.94), depressed mood (OR 1.49, 95% CI 1.17-1.90), and deprivation (most vs least affluent quintile OR 0.58, 95% CI 0.37-0.90). Care home residence was associated with fewer early (OR 0.63, 95% CI 0.53 to 0.76) and late (OR 0.80, 95% CI 0.65 to 0.97) transitions. Early transitions were associated with more hospital admissions throughout the last year of life compared to those with late and no transitions (mean 4.56, 1.89, 1.60; P < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: in contrast to late transitions, early transitions are associated with higher healthcare use and characteristics that are predictable, indicating potential for prevention.