This study explored the experience of pharmacists, social workers, and nurses who participated in Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in a tertiary care Canadian hospital. Consenting staff participated in qualitative semistructured interviews, which were then analyzed for thematic content. This article reports on the broad theme of “support” from the perspective of the 3 professions, focusing on the diversity in perceptions of support, how MAiD was discussed within health care teams, feelings of gratuitous or excessive gestures of support, ambivalence over debriefs, and the importance of informal support. While pharmacists and social workers generally felt part of a community that supported MAiD, nurses more often expressed opinions as highly divergent. The key finding across all themes was the central importance of the culture on any unit with respect to MAiD and specifically the role of the unit manager in creating either a positive open space for communication or a more silent or closed space. Nursing noted that in the latter setting many gestures of support were experienced as insincere and counterproductive, as were debriefs. We outline several recommendations for managers based on the study results with the intent of tailoring support for all professionals involved in MAiD.
Objectives: Common terminal phase symptoms include pain, dyspnoea, anxiety, terminal restlessness, nausea and noisy breathing. This study identified the proportion of community pharmacies across two Australian states stocking medicines useful in managing terminal phase symptoms, while exploring factors considered predictive of pharmacies carrying these medicines.
Methods: Community pharmacies from across the states of New South Wales (NSW) and South Australia (SA) were concurrently mailed a survey. Respondents were asked questions relating to medicines stocked, expiry date of stock, awareness of people with palliative care needs and demographic characteristics of the pharmacy. A ‘prepared pharmacy’ was defined as a pharmacy that held medicines useful in the management of terminal phase symptoms.
Results: The proportion of prepared pharmacies across NSW and SA was 21.9%. Multiple logistic regression demonstrated eight predictors of prepared pharmacies, of which awareness of people with palliative needs using their service was the strongest.
Conclusions: One-fifth of community pharmacies carry formulations useful in managing terminal phase symptoms. The main factor associated with this was awareness of people with palliative needs using the pharmacy. Strategies that engage with pharmacists in anticipation of the terminal phase are critical, supporting people with palliative needs to remain at home to die, if desired.
Accompanied suicide is a controversial topic with varying practice across Europe; therefore, there is very little guidance on how healthcare professionals should be educated on accompanied suicide. This study implemented an anonymous, cross-sectional online survey to discover the perceptions of final-year MPharm students on accompanied suicide and the factors affecting one’s views, with the aim of investigating the knowledge, awareness and opinions of pharmacy students regarding accompanied suicide, as well as education to pharmacy students. Surveys were disseminated to final-year pharmacy students at Kingston University between January and March 2019. The survey comprised of three sections: Section A consisting of definitions – to determine knowledge of pharmacy students. Section B including case studies – to understand the opinions of pharmacy students and identify influential patient factors. Section C involving demographics – to discover the influential participant factors. An ethics application was submitted and approved prior to conducting this study. The data yielded a total of 111 responses out of a possible 139 (80% response rate); 77.5% participants were unable to correctly define each term given, with many also agreeing their lack of knowledge affected their views. Overall, most pharmacy students disagreed with accompanied suicide, regardless of the patient factors. Additionally, religious participants were more likely to disagree with the patient request (p < 0.03). Three recommendations were concluded to improve the education of pharmacy students: (1) an approved medical organisation to specifically define terminology, (2) include accompanied suicide in the pharmacy syllabus and (3) include lesser known terminal illnesses on the pharmacy syllabus.
Background: The Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) is an academic institution of the Holy See (Vatican) which aims to develop and promote Catholic teachings on questions of biomedical ethics. Palliative care (PC) experts from around the world professing different faiths were invited by the PAV to develop strategic recommendations for the global development of PC ("PAL-LIFE group").
Design: Thirteen experts in PC advocacy participated in an online Delphi process. In four iterative rounds, participants were asked to identify the most significant stakeholder groups and then propose for each, strategic recommendations to advance PC. Each round incorporated the feedback from previous rounds until consensus was achieved on the most important recommendations. In the last step, the ad hoc group was asked to rank the stakeholders' groups by order of importance on a 13 points-scale and to propose suggestions for implementation. A cluster analysis provided a classification of the stakeholders in different levels of importance for PC development.
Results: Thirteen stakeholder groups and 43 recommendations resulted from the first round and, of those, 13 recommendations were chosen as the most important (one for each stakeholder group). Five groups had higher scores. The recommendation chosen for these top five groups were 1) Policy Makers: Ensure universal access to PC; 2) Academia: Offer mandatory PC courses to undergraduates; 3) Health care workers: PC professionals should receive adequate certification; 4) Hospitals and health care centers: Every healthcare center should ensure access to PC medicines, and 5) PC associations: National Associations should be effective advocates and work with their governments in the process of implementing international policy framework. Not chosen recommendations for both this higher scored group, plus for the remaining eight groups, are also presented in order of importance.
Conclusion: The white paper represents a position statementof the PAV with regards to advocacy and promotion of PC.
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to investigate Australian pharmacists' views about their role in physician-assisted suicide (PAS), their ethical and legal concerns and overall thoughts about PAS in pharmacy.
DESIGN: Semistructured interviews of pharmacists incorporating a previously validated vignette and thematic analysis.
SETTING: Australia (face to face or phone call).
PARTICIPANTS: 40 Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency registered pharmacists, majority women (65%) with varied experiences in community, hospital, industry, academia, government and other fields.
RESULTS: Emergent themes from the interviews were: legal and logistical framework, ethical framework, training and guidance and healthcare budget. More than half the participants supported the role of pharmacists in the supply of medicines for PAS, while less than half were either against or unsure of the legislation of PAS in Australia. Shared concerns included transparency of prescribing practices and identification of authorised physicians involved in PAS, which were consistent with existing literature. Religious faith, emotion and professional autonomy were key indicators for the implementation of conscientious objection to the supply of medicines in PAS. Re-evaluation of current guidelines, pharmacist training and government reimbursement was also of significance from participants' perspectives.
CONCLUSION: This study revealed current concerns of practising pharmacists in Australia, including previously undocumented perspectives on the pharmacoeconomic impact of and barriers relating to PAS. The need for training of all healthcare professionals involved, the provision of clear guidelines, including regulation around storage, administration and disposal of medicines dispensed for PAS and the updating of current therapeutic guidelines around end-of-life care were all issues delineated by this study. These findings highlighted the need for current and future policies to account for all stakeholders involved in PAS, not solely prescribers.
Background: Black cancer patients experience pain. Barriers to opioid medications for pain may include geographic factors. This study examines neighborhood factors associated with difficulties receiving prescription opioids from pharmacies for black cancer patients.
Design: A secondary data analysis of a study on opioid adherence was used to examine neighborhood-level and individual factors related to difficulties filling prescriptions for opioids.
Setting/Subjects: Patients being treated for cancer pain with opioids (n = 104) were recruited. All self-identified as black, were 21 years or older, had cancer diagnoses, and had been prescribed extended release opioids.
Measurements: A seven-item survey to identify problems filling opioids was completed by 98 participants along with a nine-item scale to assess perceived neighborhood characteristics. Scales of neighborhood amenities and neglect were created from the perceived neighborhood characteristics scale using principal components analysis. The 2009–2013 American Community Survey data were used to estimate the census tract percentage of non-Hispanic black residents, residents =25 years of age without a high school degree or equivalent, and households earning below the federal poverty level within the past 12 months.
Results: Nearly 51% reported problems getting their opioids filled: 28% had to wait days and 24% had to return to the pharmacy multiple times. The main theme identified in analysis of an open-ended question was pharmacies not stocking medication. Neighborhood locations that rated higher on the amenities scale were protective for pharmacies sufficiently stocking opioids.
Conclusions: Additional research on pharmacies sufficiently stocking opioid pain and neighborhood perceptions is warranted.
OBJECTIVES: Patients who are no longer eligible for curative treatment often suffer from multiple complaints and require a multidisciplinary treatment approach. We incorporated two pharmacists in the palliative team, one hospital pharmacist and one pharmacist who were trained as a community pharmacist. The objective of our study was to evaluate their contribution to the palliative team.
METHODS: During 13 months, the two pharmacists participated in all regular patient reviews and rounds and were available for individual consultation by all members of the palliative team on a daily basis. Each intervention (consults at request or during the patient rounds) was logged and categorised.
KEY FINDINGS: During the study period, 115 patients were under the care of the palliative treatment team. The pharmacists were actively involved in 107 of these (93%). Pharmacists interventions occurred in 76% of patients, with an average of 1.5 interventions per patient. The most common intervention types were giving general therapeutic advice, starting of a drug for an uncontrolled symptom and stopping a drug that was given as prophylaxis. When comparing the contribution of the hospital pharmacist and the outpatient pharmacist, their interventions overlapped with regard to starting drugs, choice of drugs and side-effect management. However, interventions on parenteral drugs or optimising the route of administration mostly came from the hospital pharmacist, whereas the outpatient pharmacist more often intervened in increasing adherence and stopping drugs.
CONCLUSION: The palliative pharmacist team adds expertise to the palliative treatment team, with an active contribution in 76% of patients.
Objectives: To explore pharmacists’ perspectives on practice, availability, and barriers related to opioids.
Methods: This cross-sectional study evaluated pharmacists’ perspectives on practice, availability, and barriers related to opioids. Electronic surveys were distributed to pharmacists practicing in Georgia via Survey Monkey. The 2 or Fisher Exact test was used to test differences in practice, availability, and barriers with respect to type of pharmacy and location of pharmacy.
Results: Most participating pharmacists practiced in an independent (47%) or community chain pharmacies (37%). The majority checked the Prescription Drug-Monitoring Program (PDMP) on a regular basis (73%), and about a third reported contacting the prescriber prior to dispensing. The most common barrier included concerns about diversion (82%) and illicit use (90%). About two-thirds reported experiencing a shortage of opioids. Significant differences (P < .05) were found between types of pharmacy in dispensing practices, availability, and barriers. No significant differences were found with respect to pharmacy location.
Conclusion: Findings suggest that pharmacists are facing challenges in availability of opioids and are employing stewardship approaches to optimize dispensing practices. This research provides insight regarding broken links in the “pain relief chain” and identifies opportunities to improve the accessibility of opioids when medically indicated. Pharmacists can play an important role in addressing the opioid crisis as well as providing quality care to patients with cancer seeking pain relief.
In clinical practice, pharmacists are continually required to improve their knowledge and expertise; however, the postgraduate education system for professional development cannot be confidently stated to be well established. The establishment of a systematic and multifaceted educational curriculum should be useful to improve home care and pharmacists' contribution; therefore, we developed a curriculum in collaboration with the university faculty of pharmaceutical sciences, department of pharmacy in hospital, and the Fukuoka Pharmaceutical Association. Class topics were extracted from the "Kanwa-Iryou-Yakugaku", edited by the Japanese Society for Pharmaceutical Palliative Care and Sciences. The items are necessary to perform palliative care as a pharmacist. A class schedule of 6 days (24 classes in total) was formulated. Questionnaires on comprehension degree before and after each class were provided to the participants. Comprehension was assessed on a scale of 1 to 10, where "I do not understand at all" was 1 and "I understand enough" was 10. The average recovery rates of questionnaires from each class were 92.6 % and 88.9 % before and after class, respectively. The average number of participants who completely answered the questionnaire before and after class was 45.6; therefore, these data were analyzed. Comprehension degree on each topic had significantly increased after attendance of all classes (p < 0.01). The comprehension degree of participants of the medical science of palliative care did greatly improve. Consequently, it is clear that the standard education model constructed was meaningful for the professional development of pharmacists in palliative care medicine.
Palliative care services offered in the United States have grown substantially since the year 2000. These types of services have been shown to improve a patient's quality of life when presented with a serious or life-threatening disease or illness. An important characteristic of a quality palliative care service is the presence of an interdisciplinary team to utilize different areas of expertise to address multiple aspects of patient care. An important member of this team is the pharmacist. The services presented in this interprofessional education and practice guide describe pharmacist-delivered palliative care services offered in an institutional ambulatory palliative care setting from 2012 to 2018.
Clinical pharmacy interventions have been shown to improve medication therapy, prevent undesirable side effects, and improve patients' clinical outcomes in a number of settings; however, limited data exist to characterize clinical pharmacy specialist (CPS) providers' interventions in an inpatient hospice Veteran Affairs (VA) setting. The primary objective of this quality improvement (QI) project was to quantify the number and types of pharmacy interventions implemented from the Pharmacists Achieve Results with Medications Documentation (PhARMD) tool for inpatient hospice patient encounters in a VA medical center. A total of 453 interventions during 185 patient care encounters were documented by CPS providers between September 1, 2016, and December 31, 2016. These interventions were documented across 32 unique patients, with an average of 14.2 interventions made per patient during this period. CPS providers frequently intervened to optimize pharmacotherapy for the treatment of pain (42.38%), terminal agitation (5.08%), and nausea (3.97%). Additionally, CPS providers played a significant role in the deprescribing of medication by discontinuing drugs no longer indicated (18.3%). These results substantiate the valuable contribution to patient care that the CPS providers make in optimizing symptom management and deprescribing at end-of-life. Future studies are needed to characterize the potential cost savings of CPS provider services in the inpatient hospice setting.
Background: There is no nationwide data on polypharmacy in palliative care in Japan. In this study, the research committee of the Japanese Society for Pharmaceutical Palliative Care and Sciences conducted an online survey on polypharmacy and inappropriate prescriptions involving its members who worked as hospital pharmacists.
Methods: The online questionnaire included questions about hospital pharmacist interventions for cancer patients who regularly used six or more drugs during a two-month period from October to November 2017.
Results: Of 2618 hospital pharmacists, 359 responded (13.7%). With regard to cancer patients receiving opioids, 40.9 and 22.3% of the respondents replied that percentages of patients prescribed six or more regular medications were "40-69%" and "70-99%," respectively. Regarding patients on polypharmacy, 73.0% of the respondents reported a low or moderate rate of inappropriate prescriptions, with responses such as "long-term administration of irresponsible or aimless medications", "adverse drug reactions," and "duplication of the pharmacological effect". Furthermore, 24.2, 46.8, and 23.4% of respondents replied that the rates of drug reduction due to pharmacist recommendations were "0", "1-39%", and "more than 40%," respectively. Pharmacist interventions decreased the use of inappropriate medications, including antiemetics, gastrointestinal medications, and hypnotic sedatives, and reduced or prevented adverse drug reactions such as extrapyramidal symptoms, delirium, and sleepiness. Similar results were obtained for cancer patients who did not use opioids. However, the rates of cancer patients on polypharmacy and with reduction of inappropriate medications by pharmacist interventions were significantly higher in cancer patients receiving opioids. Finally, recommendations of board-certified pharmacists in palliative pharmacy contributed to a decrease in the use of inappropriate medications in cancer patients on polypharmacy (p = 0.06).
Conclusion: This nationwide survey clarified pharmacist interventions for polypharmacy in palliative care in Japan. Our data showed frequent polypharmacy in cancer patients receiving opioids, and benefits of pharmacist interventions, especially by board-certified pharmacists in palliative pharmacy, for reducing inappropriate medications and improving adverse drug reactions.
Objective: To determine if pharmacy students participating in simulation-based scenarios reported fewer learning needs about the transition from acute to end-of-life (EOL) care compared to students participating in solely case-based scenario delivery.
Methods: Four end-of-life cases were developed for both paper-based case study and simulation delivery. Pharmacy students on three distant campuses were exposed to the case study approach while four teams of nine to ten pharmacy students were exposed to simulated versions of the same cases. A validated questionnaire was administered before and after exposure to assess end-of-life care learning needs. Results were analyzed following a Bonferroni-adjustment for multiple testing.
Results: The case study groups produced similar pre/post changes on the questionnaire. After results were pooled and compared to the simulation only group, significantly higher changes in pre/post scores were found for the simulation group.
Conclusion: Pharmacy students exposed to simulated EOL scenarios experienced significantly reduced learning needs following the scenarios, unlike their classroom-based counterparts.
BACKGROUND: Polypharmacy may be particularly burdensome near the end of life, as patients "accumulate" medications to treat and prevent multiple diseases.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate associations between polypharmacy, symptom burden, and quality of life (QOL) in patients with advanced, life-limiting illness (clinician-estimated, 1 month-1 year).
DESIGN: Secondary analysis of baseline data from a trial of statin discontinuation.
PARTICIPANTS: Adults with advanced, life-limiting illness.
MAIN MEASURES: Polypharmacy was assessed by summing the number of non-statin medications taken regularly or as needed. Symptom burden was assessed using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (range 0-90; higher scores indicating greater symptom burden) and QOL was assessed using the McGill QOL Questionnaire (range 0-10; higher scores indicating better QOL). Linear regression models assessed associations between polypharmacy, symptom burden, and QOL.
KEY RESULTS: Among 372 participants, 47% were age 75 or older and 35% were enrolled in hospice. The mean symptom score was 27.0 (standard deviation (SD) 16.1) and the mean QOL score was 7.0 (SD 1.3). The average number of non-statin medications was 11.6 (SD 5.0); one-third of participants took = 14 medications. In adjusted models, higher polypharmacy was associated with higher symptom burden (coefficient 0.81; p < .001) and lower QOL (coefficient - .06; p = .001). Adjusting for symptom burden weakened the association between polypharmacy and QOL (coefficient - .03; p = .045) without a significant interaction, suggesting that worse quality of life associated with polypharmacy may be related to medication-associated symptoms.
CONCLUSIONS: Among adults with advanced illness, taking more medications is associated with higher symptom burden and lower QOL. Attention to medication-related symptoms and shared decision-making regarding deprescribing are warranted in this setting.
NIH TRIAL REGISTRY NUMBER: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier for Parent Study - NCT01415934.
PURPOSE: The purpose of the study was to evaluate the impact on pain management by multidisciplinary palliative care team (mPCT) and the team pharmacist.
METHODS: Patients who were admitted to palliative care unit (PCU) for at least 7 days between April 2014 and December 2015 were included. The mPCT consisted of a physician, a pharmacist, nurses, and non-clinical support staff. The team was on charge of pain management of patients who were admitted to PCU. Pain intensity was assessed at 3 time points in each patient; 1 week before PCU admission (day -7), on the day of admission (day 0), and 1 week after admission (day 7) using 0 to 10 numerical rating scale (NRS). Analgesic use was evaluated with 6 categories based on National Comprehensive Cancer Network and Korean pain management guidelines. Pain intensity and analgesic use appropriateness were compared at day -7, day 0, and day 7 for the patients who were admitted to the PCU.
RESULTS: Pain intensity decreased significantly on day 7 of PCU admission compared to it on day 0 (NRS: 4.05 vs 2.66, P < .001). A significant negative correlation was found between pain intensity and the proper use of analgesics ( r = -0.407; P < .001, r = -0.309; P = .001, r = -0.241; P = .009, on day -7, day 0, day 7, respectively).
CONCLUSION: The mPCT contributed to the reduction of inappropriate use of analgesics and improved pain control. Pharmacist intervention appeared to have improved pain control in patients under palliative care. Each team member's role should be individualized and developed further.
C'est en février dernier que la 5e édition du Guide pratique de soins palliatifs de l'Association des pharmaciens en établissements de santé du Québec (A.P.E.S.) a été publié en version numérique. Cette publication est le fruit du travail bénévole des membres du Regroupement de pharmaciens experts (RPE) en soins palliatifs de l'A.P.E.S. Qui sont-ils ? Quel est cet ouvrage ?
BACKGROUND: The importance of medication reconciliation and the pharmacist's role within the interdisciplinary team at the point of transition to home hospice is understudied. A transitions of care pilot initiative was developed to streamline the transition for patients at end of life from inpatient cancer center care to home hospice. The initiative consisted of using a hospice discharge checklist, pharmacist-led discharge medication reconciliation in consultation with the primary team responsible for inpatient care, review of discharge prescriptions, and facilitation of bedside delivery of discharge medications.
METHODS: This was a single-center, prospective, pilot initiative. The objectives of this study were to characterize pharmacist interventions at the time of transition, to assess changes in hospice organizations' perceptions of discharge readiness, and to evaluate differences in representation rates with the implementation of the pilot discharge process.
RESULTS: Fifteen patients in the preimplementation period and 12 patients in the postimplementation period were included. One hundred eleven pharmacist interventions were captured, an average of 9.3 interventions per patient, with an acceptance rate of 82.9% by providers. There was a statistically significant ( P = .035) improvement in hospice organizations' perceptions of discharge readiness. There was no difference in 30-day representation rates postdischarge ( P = 1).
CONCLUSION: This well-received pilot initiative demonstrated an improvement in local hospice's perception of patient readiness for discharge and a high percentage of accepted pharmacist interventions during discharge medication reconciliation. A larger sample size of patients and longer follow-up period may be needed to demonstrate statistically significant improvements in representation rates postintervention.
OBJECTIVE: To establish a return on investment (ROI) for a pharmacist position on a hospital-based palliative care (PC) team.
BACKGROUND: Utilizing a pharmacist to provide PC services is often overlooked as a solution to physician shortages. Integration of a pharmacist into PC teams yields a favorable ROI.
METHODS: A 16-month retrospective review comparing PC patients at two hospitals with consultative PC teams. The PC teams at the two facilities had identical full-time equivalent team members, except for a PC pharmacist at Facility 1. The PC pharmacist's ROI was calculated based on cost savings created by utilizing the PC pharmacist as a physician extender and costs attributable to preventable adverse drug events (pADEs) identified by the PC pharmacist.
RESULTS: An annual ROI of 1.2 to 2.9 million dollars was calculated, $125,760 from physician time saved and $1.1-2.8 million dollars from pADEs. A statistically significant difference in rates of pADEs was realized between the PC pharmacist and non-PC pharmacists at Facility 1 as well as between pharmacists at Facility 1 (PC pharmacist and non-PC pharmacists) and pharmacists at Facility 2 (non-PC pharmacists).
CONCLUSION: A PC pharmacist's unique qualifications and perspective contribute to the value of care provided to PC patients. A favorable ROI that exceeds a pharmacist's annual salary was demonstrated in this analysis.
As palliative care (PC) moves upstream in the course of serious illness and the development of drugs and their indications rapidly expand, PC providers must understand common drug indications and adverse effects to ensure safe and effective prescribing. Pharmacists, experts in the nuances of medication management, are valuable resources and colleagues for PC providers. This article will offer PC providers 10 useful clinical pharmacy tips that PC pharmacists think all PC providers should know for safe and effective symptom management. Close collaboration with or addition of a trained pharmacist to your PC team can improve clinical care for all PC patients.
The use of multiple drugs is often referred to as polypharmacy, although this term has not been precisely defined. Frequently, drugs are used unwisely in multiple combinations increasing the risk of adverse reactions, or for the long-term prevention of diseases in patients with a short life expectancy who, therefore, will not benefit from them. The reflection on this has led to the introduction of the concept of deprescription. There are many reasons for the inappropriate drug prescription and barriers to reduce medications. Tools were developed to help prescribers to limit the number of prescribed drugs that patients are taking. Several studies have shown that deprescription of some drugs is possible and safe and can even have a positive influence on wellbeing, cognitive function, falls, and admission to a hospital. Deprescription should be individualized and carried out, as far as possible, in agreement with patients and their families. A six-step method for deprescription is proposed.