Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an implanted neurological device effective in treating motor symptoms of Parkinson disease (PD), such as tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia. More than 150,000 patients worldwide have been implanted DBS, including its continued benefit or potential complications, yet, no published articles provide guidance for hospice providers regarding the management of DBS devices in end-of-life care. With contributions from hospice physicians, a neurosurgeon, and ethicists, this article provides recommendations to adress clinical and ethical challenges in optimizing DBS for patients with PD nearing the end of life.
Survival prospects in adults with congenital heart disease (CHD), although improved in recent decades, still remain below expectations for the general population. Patients and their loved ones benefit from preparation for both unexpected and predictable deaths, sometimes preceded by a prolonged period of declining health. Hence, advance care planning (ACP) is an integral part of comprehensive care for adults with CHD. This position paper summarizes evidence regarding benefits of and patients' preferences for ACP and provides practical advice regarding the implementation of ACP processes within clinical adult CHD practice. We suggest that ACP be delivered as a structured process across different stages, with content dependent upon the anticipated disease progression. We acknowledge potential barriers to initiate ACP discussions and emphasize the importance of a sensitive and situation-specific communication style. Conclusions presented in this article reflect agreed expert opinions and include both patient and provider perspectives.
COVID-19 mortality disproportionally affects nursing homes, creating enormous pressures to deliver high-quality end-of-life care. Comprehensive palliative care should be an explicit part of both national and global COVID-19 response plans. Therefore, we aimed to identify, review, and compare national and international COVID-19 guidance for nursing homes concerning palliative care, issued by government bodies and professional associations. We performed a directed documentary and content analysis of newly developed or adapted COVID-19 guidance documents from across the world. Documents were collected via expert consultation and independently screened against prespecified eligibility criteria. We applied thematic analysis and narrative synthesis techniques. We identified 21 eligible documents covering both nursing homes and palliative care, from the World Health Organization (n = 3), and eight individual countries: U.S. (n = 7), The Netherlands (n = 2), Ireland (n = 1), U.K. (n = 3), Switzerland (n = 3), New Zealand (n = 1), and Belgium (n = 1). International documents focused primarily on infection prevention and control, including only a few sentences on palliative care-related topics. Palliative care themes most frequently mentioned across documents were end-of-life visits, advance care planning documentation, and clinical decision making toward the end of life (focusing on hospital transfers). There is a dearth of comprehensive international COVID-19 guidance on palliative care for nursing homes. Most have a limited focus both regarding breadth of topics and recommendations made. Key aspects of palliative care, that is, symptom management, staff education and support, referral to specialist services or hospice, and family support, need greater attention in future guidelines.
Dying is a natural part of life; however, death is often a fearful, frightening event. Dying in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges that magnify normative fears and may interfere with a healthy grieving process. To maintain a resilient spirit among those who are at risk of losing a loved one or who have lost a family member to COVID-19, it is important that they be provided with the necessary contextually and culturally appropriate skills and resources to facilitate healing in the face of hardship and uncertainty.
In late February and early March 2020, Italy became the European epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite increasingly stringent containment measures enforced by the government, the health system faced an enormous pressure, and extraordinary efforts were made in order to increase overall hospital beds' availability and especially ICU capacity. Nevertheless, the hardest-hit hospitals in Northern Italy experienced a shortage of ICU beds and resources that led to hard allocating choices. At the beginning of March 2020, the Italian Society of Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation, and Intensive Care (SIAARTI) issued recommendations aimed at supporting physicians in prioritizing patients when the number of critically ill patients overwhelm the capacity of ICUs. One motivating concern for the SIAARTI guidance was that, if no balanced and consistent allocation procedures were applied to prioritize patients, there would be a concrete risk for unfair choices, and that the prevalent "first come, first served" principle would lead to many avoidable deaths. Among the drivers of decision for admission to ICUs, age, comorbidities, and preexisting functional status were included. The recommendations were criticized as ageist and potentially discriminatory against elderly patients. Looking forward to the next steps, the Italian experience can be relevant to other parts of the world that are yet to see a significant surge of COVID-19: the need for transparent triage criteria and commonly shared values give the Italian recommendations even greater legitimacy.
Facing the possibility of a surge of COVID-19-infected patients requiring ventilatory support in Intensive Care Units (ICU), the Singapore Hospice Council and the Chapter of Palliative Medicine Physicians forward its position on the guiding principles that ought to drive the allocation of ICU beds and its role in care of these patients and their families.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is challenging healthcare systems worldwide, none more so than critical and intensive care settings. Significant attention has been paid to the capacity of Australian intensive care unit (ICUs) to respond to a COVID-19 surge, particularly in relation to beds, ventilators, staffing, personal protective equipment, and unparalleled increase in deaths in ICUs associated with COVID-19 seen internationally. While death is not uncommon in critical care, the international experience demonstrates that restrictions to family presence at the end of life result in significant distress for families and clinicians. As a result, the Australian College of Critical Care Nurses and the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control supported the development of a position statement to provide critical care nurses with specific guidance and recommendations for practice for this emerging priority area. Where possible, position statements are founded on high-quality evidence. However, the short time period since the first recognition of a cluster of pneumonia-like cases in China in January, 2020, meant that an integrative approach was required to expedite timely development of this position statement in preparation for a COVID-19 surge in Australia. This position statement is intended to provide practical guidance to critical care nurses in facilitating next-of-kin presence for patients dying from COVID-19 in the ICU.
The World Health Organization recommends that "palliative care should be integrated as a routine element of all Undergraduate Medical Education." However, the provision of training for medical undergraduates is variable; only 18% of 51 European countries have mandatory training in palliative medicine. EDUPALL is an ERASMUS+ funded international collaborative project to develop and pilot an undergraduate program for training in palliative medicine. The objective of this study was to critically review and revise current European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) Recommendations for the Development of Undergraduate Curricula in Palliative Medicine and translating these into an updated curriculum document. Clinicians, academics, and researchers from Romania, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Spain, and the United Kingdom reviewed the EAPC recommendations using a variant of consensus methodology, Nominal Group Technique. From the updated document, four working-groups translated each recommendation into a specific learning objective, and developed associated learning outcomes, stratified by domain: attitude, cognition, and skills. The outcomes and objectives were organized into discrete teaching units and transferred into a curriculum template, identifying notional hours, teaching, and assessment strategies. To ensure quality control, the draft template was circulated to experts from 17 European countries, together with a brief survey instrument, for peer review purposes. All 17 reviewers returned overwhelmingly positive comments. There was large agreement that: the teaching units were logically organized; learning outcomes covered core training needs; learning objectives provided guidance for teaching sessions; learning modalities were appropriately aligned; and assessment strategies were fit for purpose. An updated and standardized curriculum was developed, which provides a platform for the sequential development of the next phases of the EDUPALL project.
As the spread of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues worldwide, health care systems are facing increased demand with concurrent health care provider shortages. This increase in patient demand and potential for provider shortages is particularly apparent for palliative medicine, where there are already shortages in the provision of this care. In response to the developing pandemic, our Geriatrics and Palliative (GAP) Medicine team formulated a 2-team approach which includes triage algorithms for palliative consults as well as acute symptomatic management for both patients diagnosed with or under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19. These algorithms provided a delineated set of guidelines to triage patients in need of palliative services and included provisions for acute symptoms management and the protection of both the patient care team and the families of patients with COVID-19. These guidelines helped with streamlining care in times of crisis, providing care to those in need, supporting frontline staff with primary-level palliative care, and minimizing the GAP team's risk of infection and burnout during the rapidly changing pandemic response.
Objectives: This study was conducted before an evidence review on Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM) to update the clinical practice guidelines (CPGs): "Deciding palliative and end-of-life (P/EoL) care for people with diabetes." The aim was to frame the PICO (population/problems, interventions/comparisons, and outcomes), ascertain their importance, and identify other modifying factors for grading recommendations.
Design: A systematic scoping review mapped information about diabetes P/EoL problems and outcomes, TCM use, provision, benefits and risks, and stakeholder preferences and values. Thirteen electronic databases were searched in 2017/18 until no new information was identified. Relevant data were extracted, rated for quality, directness, and relevance, and synthesized using triangulation methods. Excluded was diabetes prevention or treatment, as this is not an important P/EoL problem.
Results: Of the 228 included articles, except for diabetes P/EoL problems, insufficient direct evidence led to data being extrapolated from either adults with diabetes or any P/EoL diagnosis. The findings affirmed that caring for people with diabetes in need of P/EoL care is complex due to multiple fluctuating needs that are influenced by the P/EoL trajectories (stable, unstable, deteriorating, terminal, or bereaved), multimorbidity, and difficult-to-manage chronic and acute problems. The only problem specific to diabetes P/EoL care, was unstable glycemia. Over 50 TCM interventions commonly used by patients and/or provided by services were identified, of which, many might simultaneously address multiple problems and 18 had been appraised in systematic reviews. Physical and psychologic symptom reliefs were most often evaluated; however, these were only one aspect of a "good death." Other important outcomes were the quality and location of care, personal agency, relationships, preparations for the dying process, spirituality, and affirmation of the whole person. Other important modifying factors included opportunity costs, affordability, availability, preferences, cultural appropriateness, and alignment with beliefs about the meaning of illness and death.
Conclusions: There is a role for TCM in the multidisciplinary holistic P/EoL care of people with diabetes. Due to the paucity of evidence specific to this population, the generalizability of some of these results is broader and the updated CPG will also need to consider indirect evidence from other patient groups. Along with recommendations about indications for TCM use, the CGP should provide guidance on ceasing unnecessary interventions, reducing polypharmacy and managing unstable glycemia is required. Before ceasing a TCM, a broader risk-benefit analysis is recommended, as unlike many conventional therapies, there may be multiple benefits warranting its continuation.
OBJECTIVE: During an influenza or COVID-19 pandemic that results in acute respiratory distress, available ventilators will not meet demand. In 2007, the NYS Task Force on Life and the Law and Department of Health released draft Guidelines for ethical allocation of ventilators for adults. In 2015, updated guidelines were released to ensure that: (1) revisions reflect the public's values and (2) the triage protocol is substantiated by evidence-based clinical data. We summarize the development and content of the 2015 Guidelines compared to the 2007 version, emphasizing new/revised aspects of the ethical considerations and clinical protocol.
METHODS: We compared the 2007 and 2015 guidelines, with particular emphasis on the ethical issues and clinical protocols.
RESULTS: The 2015 Guidelines retained much of the ethical and clinical framework of the 2007 draft. The triage protocol was revised using evidence-based clinical data. Patients with the highest likelihood of short-term survival with ventilator therapy have priority access. Protocol consists of exclusion criteria, the sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) score, and periodic clinical assessments. Guidance is provided on secondary triage criteria. Other forms of medical intervention/palliative care and review of triage decisions are discussed.
CONCLUSIONS: The 2015 Guidelines reflect advances in medicine and societal values and provide an evidenced-based framework to save the most lives. The framework could be adapted in other emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, that require ventilators.
BACKGROUND: Many people are dying from COVID-19, but consensus guidance on palliative care in COVID-19 is lacking. This new life-threatening disease has put healthcare systems under pressure, with increased need of palliative care provided to many patients by clinicians with limited prior experience in this field. Therefore, we aimed to make consensus recommendations for palliative care for patients with COVID-19 using the Convergence of Opinion on Recommendations and Evidence (CORE) process.
METHODS: We invited 90 international experts to complete an online survey including stating their agreement, or not, with 14 potential recommendations. At least 70% agreement on directionality was needed to provide consensus recommendations. If consensus was not achieved on the first round, a second round was conducted.
RESULTS: 68 experts (75.6%) responded in the first round. Most participants were experts in palliative care, respiratory medicine or critical care medicine. In the first round, consensus was achieved on 13 recommendations based upon indirect evidence and clinical experience. In the second round, 58/68 (85.3%) of the first round experts responded, resulting in consensus also for the 14th recommendation.
CONCLUSIONS: This multi-national task force provides consensus recommendations for palliative care for patients with COVID-19 concerning: advance care planning; (pharmacological) palliative treatment of breathlessness; clinician-patient communication; remote clinician-family communication; palliative care involvement in patients with serious COVID-19; spiritual care; psychosocial care; and bereavement care. Future studies are needed to generate empirical evidence for these recommendations.
CONTEXT: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is stressing health care systems throughout the world. Significant numbers of patients are being admitted to the hospital with severe illness, often in the setting of advanced age and underlying comorbidities. Therefore, palliative care is an important part of the response to this pandemic. The Seattle area and UW Medicine have been on the forefront of the pandemic in the U.S.
METHODS: UW Medicine developed a strategy to implement a palliative care response for a multihospital health care system that incorporates conventional capacity, contingency capacity, and crisis capacity. The strategy was developed by our palliative care programs with input from the health care system leadership.
RESULTS: In this publication, we share our multifaceted strategy to implement high-quality palliative care in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that incorporates conventional, contingency, and crisis capacity and focuses on the areas of the hospital caring for the most patients: the emergency department, intensive care units, and acute care services. The strategy focuses on key content areas, including identifying and addressing goals of care, addressing moderate and severe symptoms, and supporting family members.
CONCLUSION: Strategy planning for delivery of high-quality palliative care in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic represents an important area of need for our health care systems. We share our experiences of developing such a strategy to help other institutions conduct and adapt such strategies more quickly.
Specialist palliative care services (SPCS) have a vital role to play in the global coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Core expertise in complex symptom management, decision making in uncertainty, advocacy and education, and ensuring a compassionate response are essential, and SPCS are well positioned to take a proactive approach in crisis management planning. SPCS resource capacity is likely to be overwhelmed, and consideration needs to be given to empowering and supporting high-quality primary palliative care in all care locations. Our local SPCS have developed a Palliative Care Pandemic Pack to disseminate succinct and specific information, guidance, and resources designed to enable the rapid upskilling of nonspecialist clinicians needing to provide palliative care. It may be a useful tool for our SPCS colleagues to adapt as we face this global challenge collaboratively.
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study is to map the characteristics of the existing medical literature describing the medications, settings, participants and outcomes of medical assistance in dying (MAID) in order to identify knowledge gaps and areas for future research.
DESIGN: Scoping review.
SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsychINFO, CINAHL and CENTRAL), clinical trial registries, conference abstracts and professional guidelines from jurisdictions where MAID is legal, up to February 2020. Eligible report types included technical summaries, institutional policies, practice surveys, practice guidelines and clinical studies that describe MAID provision in adults who have provided informed consent for MAID.
RESULTS: 163 articles published between 1989 and 2020 met eligibility criteria. 75 studies described details for MAID administered by intravenous medications and 50 studies provided data on oral medications. In intravenous protocols, MAID was most commonly administered using a barbiturate (34/163) or propofol (22/163) followed by a neuromuscular blocker. Oral protocols most often used barbiturates alone (37/163) or in conjunction with an opioid medication (7/163) and often recommended using a prokinetic agent prior to lethal drug ingestion. Complications included prolonged duration of the dying process, difficulty in obtaining intravenous access and difficulty in swallowing oral agents. Most commonly, the role of physicians was prescribing (83/163) and administering medications (75/163). Nurses' roles included administering medications (17/163) and supporting the patient (16/163) or family (13/163). The role of families involved providing support to the patient (17/163) and bringing medications from the pharmacy for self-administration (4/163).
CONCLUSIONS: We identified several trends in MAID provision including common medications and doses for oral and parenteral administration, roles of healthcare professionals and families, and complications that may cause patient, family and provider distress. Future research should aim to identify the medications, dosages, and administration techniques and procedures that produce the most predictable outcomes and mitigate distress for those involved.
With the daily number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and associated deaths rising exponentially, social fabrics on a global scale are being worn by panic, uncertainty, fear, and other consequences of the health care crisis. Comprising more than half of the global health care workforce and the highest proportion of direct patient care time than any other health professional, nurses are at the forefront of this crisis. Throughout the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, palliative nurses will increasingly exercise their expertise in symptom management, ethics, communication, and end-of-life care, among other crucial skills. The literature addressing the palliative care response to COVID-19 has surged, and yet, there is a critical gap regarding the unique contributions of palliative nurses and their essential role in mitigating the sequelae of this crisis. Thus, the primary aim herein is to provide recommendations for palliative nurses and other health care stakeholders to ensure their optimal value is realized and to promote their well-being and resilience during COVID-19 and, by extension, in anticipation of future public health crises.
Infections often impact care of hospice patients; however, limited guidance exists for end-of-life infection management. Regardless of patient prognosis, appropriate antibiotic use is necessary for maintaining quality of life. Antibiotics may be associated with serious adverse events, posing safety risks to patients that should be factored into the appropriateness determination. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are prescribed frequently in hospice. There are 8 fluoroquinolone drug safety warnings regarding risk for serious adverse events communicated by the US Food and Drug Administration. A retrospective chart review at a hospice pharmacy services provider identified decedents who used a fluoroquinolone during a 1-month period. Charts were evaluated for the presence of risk factors for serious adverse events, including advanced age (86.0%), orders for multiple QTc prolongation risk medications (51.5%), hypertension (64.1%), and concomitant corticosteroids (22.9%). Findings demonstrate notable risk with the use of at least 1 class of antibiotics in a hospice population. STAMPS is a hospice decision support tool, developed to guide symptom-driven antibiotic use that incorporates safety assessment and individual goals of care into infection management planning. The tool can also serve as a framework for patient-centered communications about appropriate antibiotic use in hospice between providers, patients, and families.
Palliative care is the turn from cure as the priority of care to symptom relief and comfort care. Although very little is published in the burn literature on palliative care, guidelines can be gleaned from the general literature on palliative care, particularly for acute surgical and critical care patients. Palliative care may be started because of futility, on request of the patient, or because of limited resources. The SPIKES acronym is a useful guide to avoid errors in communication with terminal patients and their relatives.
Depuis plusieurs décennies, le mouvement des soins palliatifs a développé des pratiques sédatives en cas de symptômes insupportables en fin de vie. Ces pratiques, à vrai dire presque confidentielles, ont été mises en lumière par l’évolution législative de 2016 avec la loi dite Claeys Leonetti. Mais il existe un risque réel de « sédater trop vite et trop fort des patients mal évalués » par des acteurs peu formés, et confondant souvent les niveaux et les intentionnalités de sédations. En effet, une réflexion éthique est indispensable, tout comme une vraie connaissance de la démarche palliative, pour adapter avec justesse et mesure des stratégies de sédation. Avec l’aide des sociétés savantes, la HAS a publié en deux ans des documents rigoureux, recommandant notamment un outil désormais incontournable permettant de préciser l’intentionnalité de la sédation, la fiche SEDAPALL.
Topic: A substantial number of patients die in the intensive care unit, so high-quality end-of-life care is an important part of intensive care unit work. However, end-of-life care varies because of lack of knowledge of best practices.
Clinical Relevance: Research shows that high-quality end-of-life care is possible in an intensive care unit. This article encourages nurses to be imaginative and take an individual approach to provide the best possible end-of-life care for patients and their family members.
Purpose of Paper: To provide recommendations for high-quality end-of-life care for patients and family members.
Content Covered: This article touches on the following domains: end-of-life decision-making, place to die, patient comfort, family presence in the intensive care unit, visiting children, family needs, preparing the family, staff presence, when the patient dies, after-death care of the family, and caring for staff.