Objectives: To analyse patterns of use and costs of unscheduled National Health Service (NHS) services for people in the last year of life.
Design: Retrospective cohort analysis of national datasets with application of standard UK costings.
Participants and setting: All people who died in Scotland in 2016 aged 18 or older (N=56 407).
Main outcome measures: Frequency of use of the five unscheduled NHS services in the last 12 months of life by underlying cause of death, patient demographics, Continuous Unscheduled Pathways (CUPs) followed by patients during each care episode, total NHS and per-patient costs.
Results: 53 509 patients (94.9%) had at least one contact with an unscheduled care service during their last year of life (472 360 contacts), with 34.2% in the last month of life. By linking patient contacts during each episode of care, we identified 206 841 CUPs, with 133 980 (64.8%) starting out-of-hours. People with cancer were more likely to contact the NHS telephone advice line (63%) ( 2 (4)=1004, p<0.001) or primary care out-of-hours (62%) ( 2 (4)=1924,p<0.001) and have hospital admissions (88%) ( 2 (4)=2644, p<0.001). People with organ failure (79%) contacted the ambulance service most frequently ( 2 (4)=584, p<0.001). Demographic factors associated with more unscheduled care were older age, social deprivation, living in own home and dying of cancer. People dying with organ failure formed the largest group in the cohort and had the highest NHS costs as a group. The cost of providing services in the community was estimated at 3.9% of total unscheduled care costs despite handling most out-of-hours calls.
Conclusions: Over 90% of people used NHS unscheduled care in their last year of life. Different underlying causes of death and demographic factors impacted on initial access and subsequent pathways of care. Managing more unscheduled care episodes in the community has the potential to reduce hospital admissions and overall costs.
Purpose: Visitor restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic limit in-person family meetings for hospitalized patients. We aimed to evaluate the quantity of family meetings by telephone, video and in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic by manual chart review. Secondary outcomes included rate of change in patient goals of care between video and in-person meetings, the timing of family meetings, and variability in meetings by race and ethnicity.
Methods: A retrospective cohort study evaluated patients admitted to the intensive care unit at an urban academic hospital between March and June 2020. Patients lacking decision-making capacity and receiving a referral for a video meeting were included in this study.
Results: Most patients meeting inclusion criteria (N = 61/481, 13%) had COVID-19 pneumonia (n = 57/61, 93%). A total of 650 documented family meetings occurred. Few occurred in-person (n = 70/650, 11%) or discussed goals of care (n = 233/650, 36%). For meetings discussing goals of care, changes in patient goals of care occurred more often for in-person meetings rather than by video (36% vs. 11%, p = 0.0006). The average time to the first goals of care family meeting was 11.4 days from admission. More documented telephone meetings per admission were observed for White (10.5, SD 9.5) and Black/African-American (7.1, SD 6.6) patients compared to Hispanic or Latino patients (4.9, SD 4.9) (p = 0.02).
Conclusions: During this period of strict visitor restrictions, few family meetings occurred in-person. Statistically significant fewer changes in patient goals of care occurred following video meetings compared to in-person meetings, providing support limiting in-person meetings may affect patient care.
Background: Evaluating the need for palliative care and predicting its mortality play important roles in the emergency department.
Aim: We developed a screening model for predicting 1-year mortality.
Design: A retrospective cohort study was conducted to identify risk factors associated with 1-year mortality. Our risk scores based on these significant risk factors were then developed. Its predictive validity performance was evaluated using area under receiving operating characteristic analysis and leave-one-out cross-validation.
Setting and participants: Patients aged 15 years or older were enrolled from June 2015 to May 2016 in the emergency department.
Results: We identified five independent risk factors, each of which was assigned a number of points proportional to its estimated regression coefficient: age (0.05 points per year), qSOFA >= 2 (1), Cancer (4), Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Performance Status score >= 2 (2), and Do-Not-Resuscitate status (3). The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of our screening tool given the cutoff larger than 3 points were 0.99 (0.98–0.99), 0.31 (0.29–0.32), 0.26 (0.24–0.27), and 0.99 (0.98–1.00), respectively. Those with screening scores larger than 9 points corresponding to 64.0% (60.0–67.9%) of 1-year mortality were prioritized for consultation and communication. The area under the receiving operating characteristic curves for the point system was 0.84 (0.83–0.85) for the cross-validation model.
Conclusions: A-qCPR risk scores provide a good screening tool for assessing patient prognosis. Routine screening for end-of-life using this tool plays an important role in early and efficient physician-patient communications regarding hospice and palliative needs in the emergency department.
Background: Continuous subcutaneous infusion (CSCI) via ambulatory infusion pump (AIP) is a valuable method of pain control in palliative care. When using CSCI, low-dose methadone as add-on to other opioids might be an option in complex pain situations. This study aimed to investigate the effects, and adverse effects, of CSCI for pain control in dying patients, with particular interest in methadone use.
Methods: his was an observational cohort study. Imminently dying patients with pain, admitted to specialized palliative inpatient wards and introduced on CSCI, were monitored daily by staff for symptoms (Integrated Palliative Care Outcome Scale - IPOS), sedation (Richmond Agitation and Sedation Scale – RASS), performance status (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group - ECOG) and delirium (Confusion Assessment Method - CAM).
Results: Ninety-three patients with a median survival of 4 days were included. Of the 47 patients who survived =3 days, the proportion of patients with severe/overwhelming pain decreased from 45 to 19% (p < 0.001) after starting CSCI, with only a moderate increase in morphine equivalent daily dose of opioids (MEDD). Alertness was marginally decreased (1 point on the 10-point RASS scale, p = 0.001), whereas performance status and prevalence of delirium, regardless of age, remained unchanged.
Both patients with methadone as add-on (MET, n = 13) and patients with only other opioids (NMET, n = 34), improved in pain control (p < 0.05 and 0.001, respectively), despite that MET patients had higher pain scores at baseline (p < 0.05) and were on a higher MEDD (240 mg vs.133 mg). No serious adverse effects demanding treatment stop were reported.
Conclusions: CSCI via AIP is an effective way to reduce pain in dying patients without increased adverse effects. Add-on methadone may be beneficial in patients with severe complex pain.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Experts have suggested that patients represented by professional guardians receive higher intensity end-of-life treatment than other patients, but there is little corresponding empirical data.
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Among veterans aged 65 and older who died from 2011 to 2013, we used Minimum Data Set assessments to identify those who were nursing home residents and had moderately severe or severe dementia. We applied methods developed in prior work to determine which of these veterans had professional guardians. Decedent veterans with professional guardians were matched to decedent veterans without guardians in a 1:4 ratio, according to age, sex, race, dementia severity, and nursing facility type (VA based vs non-VA).
MEASUREMENTS: Our primary outcome was intensive care unit (ICU) admission in the last 30 days of life. Secondary outcomes included mechanical ventilation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the last 30 days of life, feeding tube placement in the last 90 days of life, three or more nursing home-to-hospital transfers in the last 90 days of life, and in-hospital death.
RESULTS: ICU admission was more common among patients with professional guardians than matched controls (17.5% vs 13.7%), but the difference was not statistically significant (adjusted odds ratio = 1.33; 95% confidence interval = .89–1.99). There were no significant differences in receipt of any other treatment; nor was there a consistent pattern. Mechanical ventilation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation were more common among patients with professional guardians, and feeding tube placement, three or more end-of-life hospitalizations, and in-hospital death were more common among matched controls.
CONCLUSION: Rates of high-intensity treatment were similar whether or not a nursing home resident with dementia was represented by a professional guardian. This is in part because high-intensity treatment occurred more frequently than expected among patients without guardians.
Continuity of care (COC) has been emphasized in research on terminal cancer patients to increase the quality of end-of-life care; however, limited research has been conducted on end-stage renal disease patients. We applied a retrospective cohort design on 29,095 elderly patients with end-stage renal disease who died between 2005 and 2013. These patients were identified from the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan. The provider Continuity of Care Index (COCI) and site COCI were calculated on the basis of outpatient visits during the 6-12 months before death. We discovered that increases in the provider COCI were significantly associated with reductions in health expenditures after adjusting for confounders, especially in inpatient and emergency departments, where the treatment intensity is high. Higher provider and site COC were also associated with lower utilization of acute care and invasive treatments in the last month before death. Provider COC had a greater effect on end-of-life care expenditures than site COC did, which indicated significant care coordination gaps within the same facility. Our findings support the recommendation of prioritizing the continuity of end-of-life care, especially provider continuity, for patients with end-stage renal disease.
OBJECTIVES: Assess whether frequently-used claims-based end-o-life (EOL) measures are associated with higher ratings of care quality.
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Deceased fee--for-service Medicare beneficiaries with cancer who underwent chemotherapy during July 2016 to January 2017 and died within 12 months and their caregiver respondents to an after-death survey (n = 2,559).
MEASUREMENTS: We examined claims-based measures of EOL care: chemotherapy 14 days or more before death; inpatient admissions, intensive care unit (ICU) use, and emergency department (ED) visits 30 days or more before death; hospice election and the timing of election before death. Primary outcomes are family ratings of “excellent” care in the last month of life and reports that hospice care began “at the right time.” Associations were assessed with logistic regression, adjusted by patient characteristics.
RESULTS: Family rated EOL care as excellent less often, if within 30 days before death the cancer patient had inpatient admissions (1 hospitalization = 41.5% vs 51.5% none, adjusted difference -10.1 percentage points), ICU use (38.6% for any ICU use vs 47.4% none; adjusted difference -8.8 percentage points), ED visits (41.0% 1 visit vs 51.6% no visits; adjusted difference -10.6 percentage points), or elected hospice within 7 days before death. Among hospice enrollees, family more often reported that hospice began at the right time if it started at least 7 days before death (hospice 1–2 days before death 60.2% vs hospice 7–13 days 74.9%; adjusted difference +14.7 percentage points).
CONCLUSIONS: Claims-based measures of EOL care for cancer patients that reflect avoidance of hospital-based care and earlier hospice enrollment are associated with higher ratings of care quality by bereaved family members.
PURPOSE: The main aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of ethical dilemmas in the end-of-life process in advanced cancer patients.
METHODS: We carried out a multicenter, cross-sectional, observational, prospective study in a cohort of cancer patients whose life expectancy was = 6 months. We recorded sociodemographic characteristics, diagnosis of cancer, symptom burden, cognitive and functional status, emotional impact, and sociofamilial risk factors. The main outcome measure was the detection of ethical dilemmas, based on the following definition: conflict in decision-making during the end-of-life process that involves the need to choose between morally acceptable opposing options, where none is clearly preferable to another.
RESULTS: We included 324 patients (mean age, 69 years; 58% men). We identified 117 dilemmas in 90 patients (27.8%). The dilemmas detected were as follows: (a) conflicts of information (adaptive denial, conspiracy of silence, information exceeding patient's desired limit), 15.7%; (b) discrepancies in proportionality (discussion on futility, rejection of treatment, withdrawal of life support measures), 16.7%; (c) unrealistic expectations about the outcome of clinical trials, 2.5%; and (d) request for euthanasia or medically assisted suicide, 1.2%. We observed a greater prevalence of ethical dilemmas in men, in patients receiving active cancer treatment, and in patients with emotional distress (p < 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of ethical dilemmas during the end-of-life process in cancer patients is relevant. Most dilemmas were associated directly or indirectly with respect for patient autonomy. In this context, the communication skills of the health professionals and advanced care planning take on a key role.
OBJECTIVE: To report the clinical and demographic characteristics of advanced cervical cancer patients referred to the palliative care service (PC) at a major cancer center in Mexico.
METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study of patients with advanced CC referred to the PC of INCan, between January 2011 to December 2015. Demographic and clinical characteristics at the time of admission to the INCan, time to referral to palliative care, initial ESAS evaluation and follow-up.
RESULTS: 359 patients were included, median age 51 years, poor, low education. Most patients (90%), received tumor specific treatment, presence of nephrostomies and other tumor related complication was frequent. Median time to referral was 335 days, more than 50% had 5 or more symptoms, pain and fatigue were the most prevalent.
CONCLUSIONS: Advanced CC patients have a high burden of symptoms; PC is only considered at the end of life. Efforts for an early referral to PC should be made.
CONTEXT: Delirium is a highly distressing neurocognitive disorder for patients at the end of life.
OBJECTIVES: To compare hospitalization outcomes between patients with and without delirium admitted to acute care hospitals in the last year of life.
METHODS: Using linked administrative data from ICES, this population-based retrospective cohort study included adults who died in Ontario between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2016 and were admitted to an acute care hospital in their last year of life. Delirium was identified via diagnosis codes on the hospitalization discharge record. Outcomes included length of stay, discharge location and in-hospital mortality. We used multivariable generalized estimating equations to compare outcomes between patients with and without delirium.
RESULTS: Of 208,715 decedents, 9.3% experienced delirium in at least one hospitalization in the last year of life. The mean hospitalization length of stay was 13.8 days in patients with delirium (standard deviation 21.1), or 1.80 times longer (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.75-1.84) compared to those without delirium. Among patients discharged alive, patients with delirium were 1.32 times (95% CI 1.27-1.38) more likely to be discharged to another institution rather than discharged home. There was no difference in in-hospital mortality between patients with and without delirium (relative risk 1.01 (0.98-1.05).
CONCLUSION: In the last year of life, hospitalized patients with recorded delirium experience poorer outcomes, including longer length of stay and increased risk of post-discharge institution use, compared to those without delirium. These outcomes illustrate added burden for patients, their families and the healthcare system, thus highlighting the need for delirium prevention and early detection in addition to informed transitional care decisions.
CONTEXT: Fatigue is the most commonly reported symptom in life-limiting illnesses, though not much is known about the distress it causes patients as they approach death.
OBJECTIVES: To map the trajectory of distress from fatigue reported by an Australian palliative care population in the last 60 days leading up to death.
METHODS: A prospective, longitudinal, consecutive cohort study using national data from the Australian Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration between 1 July 2013 and 31 December 2018. Patients were included if they had at least one measurement of fatigue on a 0-10 numerical rating scale in the 60 days before death. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse patients by diagnostic cohort and functional status.
RESULTS: A total of 116,604 patients from 203 specialist palliative care services were analysed, providing 501,104 data points. Distress from fatigue affected up to 80% of patients referred to palliative care, with the majority experiencing moderate or severe distress. Malignant and non-malignant diagnoses were equally affected, with the neurological cohort showing the greatest variability. The degree of distress correlated with a patient's functional level; it worsened as a patient's function declined until a patient became bedbound when the reporting of distress reduced.
CONCLUSIONS: Distress from fatigue is high in this cohort of patients. Interventions to reduce this distress need to be a research priority.
INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVES: Decompensated cirrhosis carries high inpatient morbidity and mortality. Consequently, advance care planning is an integral aspect of medical care in this patient population. Our study aims to identify do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order utilization and demographic disparities in decompensated cirrhosis patients.
PATIENTS OR MATERIALS AND METHODS: Nationwide Inpatient Sample was used to extract the cohort of patients from January 1st, 2016 to December 31st, 2017, based on the most comprehensive and recent data. The first cohort included hospitalized patients with decompensated cirrhosis. The second cohort included patients with decompensated cirrhosis with at least one contraindication for liver transplantation.
RESULTS: A cohort of 585,859 decompensated cirrhosis patients was utilized. DNR orders were present in 14.2% of hospitalized patients. DNR utilization rate among patients with relative contraindication for liver transplantation was 15.0%. After adjusting for co-morbid conditions, disease severity, and inpatient mortality, African-American and Hispanic patient populations had significantly lower DNR utilization rates. There were regional, and hospital-level differences noted. Moreover, advanced age, advanced stage of decompensated cirrhosis, inpatient mortality, and relative contraindications for liver transplantation (metastatic neoplasms, dementia, alcohol misuse, severe cardiopulmonary disease, medical non-adherence) were independently associated with increased DNR utilization rates.
CONCLUSIONS: The rate of DNR utilization in patients with relative contraindications for liver transplantation was similar to patients without any relative contraindications. Moreover, there were significant demographic and hospital-level predictors of DNR utilization. This information can guide resource allocation in educating patients and their families regarding prognosis and outcome expectations.
Background: It is not clear whether use of specialty palliative care consults and “comfort measures only” (CMO) order sets differ by type of intensive care unit (ICU). A better understanding of palliative care provided to these patients may help address heterogeneity of care across ICU types.
Objectives: Examine utilization of specialty palliative care consultation and CMO order sets across several different ICU types in a multihospital academic health care system.
Design: Retrospective cohort study using Washington State death certificates and data from the electronic health record.
Setting/Subjects: Adults with a chronic medical illness who died in an ICU at one of two hospitals from July 2013 through December 2018. Five ICU types were identified by patient population and attending physician specialty.
Measurements: Documentation of a specialty palliative care consult during a patient's terminal ICU stay and a CMO order set at time of death.
Results: For 2706 eligible decedents, ICU type was significantly associated with odds of palliative care consultation (p < 0.001) as well as presence of CMO order set at time of death (p < 0.001). Compared with medical ICUs, odds of palliative care consultation were highest in the cardiothoracic ICU and trauma ICU. Odds of CMO order set in place at time of death were highest in the neurology/neurosurgical ICU.
Conclusion: Utilization of specialty palliative care consultations and CMO order sets varies across types of ICUs. Examining this variability within institutions may provide an opportunity to improve end-of-life care for patients with chronic, life-limiting illnesses who die in the ICU.
Objective: Evidence is mixed regarding the impact of advance care planning (ACP) on place of death. This cohort study investigated the effect of ACP programmes on place of death and utilisation of life-sustaining treatments for patients during end-of-life (EOL) care.
Methods: This prospective cohort study identified deceased patients between 2015 and 2016 at Taipei City Hospital. ACP was determined by patients’ medical records and defined as a process to discuss patients’ preferences with respect to EOL treatments and place of death. Place of death included hospital or home death. Stepwise logistic regression determined the association of ACP with place of death and utilisation of life-sustaining treatments during EOL care.
Results: Of the 3196 deceased patients, the overall mean age was 78.6 years, and 46.5% of the subjects had an ACP communication with healthcare providers before death. During the study follow-up period, 166 individuals died at home, including 98 (6.59%) patients with ACP and 68 (3.98%) patients without ACP. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors and comorbidities, patients with ACP were more likely to die at home during EOL care (adjusted OR (AOR)=1.71, 95% CI 1.24 to 2.35). Moreover, patients with ACP were less likely to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (AOR 0.36, 95% CI 0.25 to 0.51) as well as intubation and mechanical ventilation support (AOR 0.54, 95% CI 0.44 to 0.67) during the last 3 months of life.
Conclusion: Patients with ACP were more likely to die at home and less likely to receive life-sustaining treatments during EOL care.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate a machine learning model designed to predict mortality for Medicare beneficiaries aged >65 years treated for hip fracture in Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs).
DESIGN: Retrospective design/cohort analysis of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility-Patient Assessment Instrument data.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: A total of 17,140 persons admitted to Medicare-certified IRFs in 2015 following hospitalization for hip fracture.
MEASURES: Patient characteristics include sociodemographic (age, gender, race, and social support) and clinical factors (functional status at admission, chronic conditions) and IRF length of stay. Outcomes were 30-day and 1-year all-cause mortality. We trained and evaluated 2 classification models, logistic regression and a multilayer perceptron (MLP), to predict the probability of 30-day and 1-year mortality and evaluated the calibration, discrimination, and precision of the models.
RESULTS: For 30-day mortality, MLP performed well [acc = 0.74, area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) = 0.76, avg prec = 0.10, slope = 1.14] as did logistic regression (acc = 0.78, AUROC = 0.76, avg prec = 0.09, slope = 1.20). For 1-year mortality, the performances were similar for both MLP (acc = 0.68, AUROC = 0.75, avg prec = 0.32, slope = 0.96) and logistic regression (acc = 0.68, AUROC = 0.75, avg prec = 0.32, slope = 0.95).
CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: A scoring system based on logistic regression may be more feasible to run in current electronic medical records. But MLP models may reduce cognitive burden and increase ability to calibrate to local data, yielding clinical specificity in mortality prediction so that palliative care resources may be allocated more effectively.
BACKGROUND: Patients with end-stage liver disease (ESLD) have limited treatment options and have a deteriorated quality of life with an uncertain prognosis. Early identification of ESLD patients with a poor prognosis is valuable, especially for palliative care. However, it is difficult to predict ESLD patients that require either acute care or palliative care.
OBJECTIVE: We sought to create a machine-learning monitoring system that can predict mortality or classify ESLD patients. Several machine-learning models with visualized graphs, decision trees, ensemble learning, and clustering were assessed.
METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was conducted using electronic medical records of patients from Wan Fang Hospital and Taipei Medical University Hospital. A total of 1214 patients from Wan Fang Hospital were used to establish a dataset for training and 689 patients from Taipei Medical University Hospital were used as a validation set.
RESULTS: The overall mortality rate of patients in the training set and validation set was 28.3% (257/907) and 22.6% (145/643), respectively. In traditional clinical scoring models, prothrombin time-international normalized ratio, which was significant in the Cox regression (P<.001, hazard ratio 1.288), had a prominent influence on predicting mortality, and the area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve reached approximately 0.75. In supervised machine-learning models, the concordance statistic of ROC curves reached 0.852 for the random forest model and reached 0.833 for the adaptive boosting model. Blood urea nitrogen, bilirubin, and sodium were regarded as critical factors for predicting mortality. Creatinine, hemoglobin, and albumin were also significant mortality predictors. In unsupervised learning models, hierarchical clustering analysis could accurately group acute death patients and palliative care patients into different clusters from patients in the survival group.
CONCLUSIONS: Medical artificial intelligence has become a cutting-edge tool in clinical medicine, as it has been found to have predictive ability in several diseases. The machine-learning monitoring system developed in this study involves multifaceted analyses, which include various aspects for evaluation and diagnosis. This strength makes the clinical results more objective and reliable. Moreover, the visualized interface in this system offers more intelligible outcomes. Therefore, this machine-learning monitoring system provides a comprehensive approach for assessing patient condition, and may help to classify acute death patients and palliative care patients. Upon further validation and improvement, the system may be used to help physicians in the management of ESLD patients.
OBJECTIVES: The objectives are as follows: 1) estimate palliative care consult rates and trends among critically ill children and 2) characterize which children receive palliative care consults, including those meeting previously proposed ICU-specific palliative care screening criteria.
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort.
SETTING: Fifty-two United States children's hospitals participating in the Pediatric Health Information Systems database.
PATIENTS: Hospitalized children with nonneonatal ICU admissions from 2007 to 2018.
MEASUREMENTS: The primary outcome was palliative care consultation, as identified by the palliative care International Classification of Disease code. Patient characteristics and outcomes were compared between those with and without palliative care. We used a mixed-effects multivariable model to estimate the independent association between the palliative care and patient characteristics accounting for institution and subject clustering. Hospitalizations were categorized into three mutually exclusive groups for comparative analyses: 1) meeting ICU-specific palliative care criteria, 2) presence of a complex chronic condition not in ICU-specific palliative care criteria, or 3) not meeting ICU-specific palliative care or complex chronic condition criteria. Rates and trends of palliative care consultation were estimated including variation among institutions and variation among subcategories of ICU-specific palliative care criteria.
RESULTS: The study cohort included 740,890 subjects with 1,024,666 hospitalizations. About 1.36% of hospitalizations had a palliative care consultation. Palliative care consult was independently associated with older age, female sex, government insurance, inhospital mortality, and ICU-specific palliative care or complex chronic condition criteria. Among the hospitalizations, 30% met ICU-specific palliative care criteria, 40% complex chronic condition criteria, and 30% neither. ICU-specific palliative care patients received more mechanical ventilation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, had longer hospital and ICU lengths of stay, and had higher inhospital mortality (p < 0.001). Palliative care utilization increased over the study period with considerable variation between the institutions especially in the ICU-specific palliative care cohort and its subgroups.
CONCLUSIONS: Palliative care consultation for critically ill children in the United States is low. Palliative care utilization is increasing but considerable variation exists across institutions, suggesting inequity in palliative care allocation among this vulnerable population. Future studies should evaluate factors influencing allocation of palliative care among critically ill children in the United States and the drivers of differences between the institutional practices.
Background: A minority of individuals use a large portion of health system resources, incurring considerable costs, especially in acute-care hospitals where a significant proportion of deaths occur. We sought to describe and contrast the characteristics, acute-care use and cost in the last year of life among high users and non-high users who died in hospitals across Canada.
Methods: We conducted a population-based retrospective-cohort study of Canadian adults aged =18 who died in hospitals across Canada between fiscal years 2011/12–2014/15. High users were defined as patients within the top 10% of highest cumulative acute-care costs in each fiscal year. Patients were categorized as: persistent high users (high-cost in death year and year prior), non-persistent high users (high-cost in death year only) and non-high users (never high-cost). Discharge abstracts were used to measure characteristics and acute-care use, including number of hospitalizations, admissions to intensive-care-unit (ICU), and alternate-level-of-care (ALC).
Results: We identified 191,310 decedents, among which 6% were persistent high users, 41% were non-persistent high users, and 46% were non-high users. A larger proportion of high users were male, younger, and had multimorbidity than non-high users. In the last year of life, persistent high users had multiple hospitalizations more often than other groups. Twenty-eight percent of persistent high users had =2 ICU admissions, compared to 8% of non-persistent high users and only 1% of non-high users. Eleven percent of persistent high users had =2 ALC admissions, compared to only 2% of non-persistent high users and < 1% of non-high users. High users received an in-hospital intervention more often than non-high users (36% vs. 19%). Despite representing only 47% of the cohort, persistent and non-persistent high users accounted for 83% of acute-care costs.
Conclusions: High users – persistent and non-persistent – are medically complex and use a disproportionate amount of acute-care resources at the end of life. A greater understanding of the characteristics and circumstances that lead to persistently high use of inpatient services may help inform strategies to prevent hospitalizations and off-set current healthcare costs while improving patient outcomes.
PURPOSE: End-of-life cancer care varies widely, and very few centers evaluate it systematically. Our objective was to assess indicators of the aggressiveness of end-of-life cancer care in clinical practice.
METHODS: An observational, longitudinal, and retrospective cohort study was conducted at a tertiary hospital. Eligible patients were at least 18 years old, had a solid tumor, were followed up by the Oncology Department, and had died because of cancer or associated complications during 2017. We used the criteria of Earle et al. (J Clin Oncol 21(6):1133-1138, 2003) to assess the aggressiveness of care. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to characterize factors associated with aggressiveness of therapy.
RESULTS: The study population comprised 684 patients. Eighty-eight patients (12.9%) received anti-cancer treatment during the last 14 days of their lives, and 62 patients (9.1%) started a new treatment line in the last 30 days. During the last month of life, 102 patients (14.9%) visited the ER, 80 patients (11.7%) were hospitalized more than once, and 26 (3.8%) were admitted to the ICU. A total of 326 patients (47.7%) died in the acute care unit. A total of 417 patients (61.0%) were followed by the Palliative Care Unit, and in 54 cases (13.0%), this care started during the last 3 days of life.
CONCLUSIONS: The use of anti-cancer therapies and health care services in our clinical practice, except for the ICU, did not meet the Earle criteria for high-quality care. Concerning hospice care, more than half of the patients received hospice services before death, although in some cases, this care started close to the time of death.
Objectives: There is scarce information about sedation in nursing homes at the end of life. We aimed to assess (1) the use of sedatives generally and “sedatives with continuous effect,” based on objective operational criteria, within the last week of life in nursing homes and (2) factors associated with this treatment.
Design: Retrospective cohort study, using the nursing homes' medical records.
Setting and Participants: Residents who died in 4 German nursing homes from January 2015 to December 2017 and whose medical records were available (n = 512).
Methods: Sedatives analyzed were those recommended by guidelines for “palliative sedation”: benzodiazepines, levomepromazine, haloperidol (=5 mg/d), and propofol. The definition of “sedatives with continuous effect” and doses judged as at least moderately sedating were consented by palliative care clinicians and pharmacists, based on the literature. Descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regression analysis were performed (R version 3.6.1).
Results: Overall, 110/512 (21%) deceased residents received a sedative at least once during the last week of life, 46/512 (9%) “sedatives with continuous effect.” Oral lorazepam was used most frequently. Eleven of 512 (2%) residents received doses judged as at least moderately sedating. The term sedation was not used. Most frequent indications were agitation (58/110; 53%) and anxiety (35/110; 32%); no indication was noted for 36/110 (33%) residents. The resident's involvement in the decision for sedatives was documented in 3/110 (3%). Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed significant associations between use of sedatives and age (OR = 0.94, P < .001) as well as institution (P < .001).
Conclusions and Implications: Our data indicate a lower prevalence of sedation compared to international data and considerable differences regarding prevalence between institutions. These differences, potential setting-specific challenges, and need for support measures for consistent best practice of sedation in nursing homes should be further explored.