Purpose: This multi-component educational intervention was aimed at General Internal Medicine residents’ perceived self-efficacy in providing end of life care. This study also measured the uptake of the Comfort Measures Order Set.
Methods: This non-randomized study was conducted over nine 4-week rotations on one General Internal Medicine ward. The intervention consisted of: 1) a didactic module, 2) presence of the Palliative Care Consult Team at General Internal Medicine rounds and, 3) provision of end of life care educational materials. Twenty learners completed a pre/post Self-Efficacy in Palliative Care Scale.
Data/Results: Data revealed improved self-efficacy ratings on the overall scale, and on all three subscales of the Self-Efficacy in Palliative Care Scale. The Comfort Measures Order Set was implemented in 62% of patient deaths in the intervention group, and 51% of patient deaths in the control group, demonstrating no statistical difference between these groups.
Conclusion: The uptake of the order set in both the intervention and control groups demonstrated utility in providing a clinical framework for delivering end of life care and highlighted the need for on-going education and enhancement of clinicians' self-efficacy in end of life care.
OBJECTIVE: To examine transitions out of prognostic talk in interactions between clinicians and the relatives and friends of imminently dying hospice patients.
METHODS: Conversation analysis of 20 conversations between specialist palliative care clinicians and the families of imminently dying patients in a hospice.
RESULTS: Following the provision and acknowledgement of a prognostic estimate, clinicians were able to transition gradually towards making assurances about actions that could be taken to ensure patient comfort. When families raised concerns or questions, this transition sequence was extended. Clinicians addressed these questions or concerns and then pivoted to action-oriented talk, most often relating to patient comfort.
CONCLUSION: In conversations at the end of life, families and clinicians used practices to transition from the uncertainty of prognosis to more certain, controllable topics including comfort care.
PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: In a context in which there is a great deal of uncertainty, transitioning towards talk on comfort care can emphasise action and the continued care of the patient and their family.
PURPOSE: Defining patients as 'terminally-ill' may be difficult. Therefore, determining when to shift the goal of care from curative to comfort care may be extremely challenging. The aim of this study was to merge when and how Registered Nurses (RNs) and Nurses' Assistants (NAs) adjust end-of-life care to pursue patient comfort at the end of their lives.
METHODS: A descriptive qualitative study based on multiple focus groups was performed in 2017 according to the COnsolidated criteria for REporting Qualitative research guidelines. In all, 25 RNs and 16 NAs across seven north-east Italian facilities that provide end-of-life care, voluntarily participated in the study. Each focus group was conducted following the same interview guide with open-ended questions, and was audiotaped. A thematic analysis was applied to interview transcripts.
RESULTS: The process of nursing care plan adjustment is based upon two main themes, around 'when' and 'how' to adjust it. Regarding when, 'Detecting the turning point', and 'Being ready to change continuously until the end' emerged as the main sub-themes. Regarding how, 'Weighing harms and benefits of nursing care interventions'; 'Advocating for patients' wishes', 'Sharing the adjustments inside the team at different levels', 'Involving family in the adjustments of nursing care'; and 'Allowing care to move away from evidence-based practice' were the sub-themes emerged.
CONCLUSIONS: Shedding light on the implicit decisional processes that inform care adjustments and the implementation of related strategies is essential to improve the quality of end-of-life care given that an early detection of the terminal phase has been reported to result in changes of care improving outcomes.
What components of the physical examination (PE) are valuable when providing comfort-based care for an imminently dying patients? While patient factors must be individualized, this Fast Fact assimilates the sparse published evidence along with anecdotal experience to offer clinical pearls on how to tailor the PE.
CONTEXT: As part of its Life Sustaining Treatment (LST) Decisions Initiative (LSTDI) the Veterans Health Administration (VA) in January 2017 began requiring electronic documentation of goals of care and preferences for Veterans with serious illness and at high risk for life-threatening events.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate whether goals of "to be comfortable" were associated with greater palliative care (PC) use and lesser acute care use.
METHODS: We identified Veterans with VA inpatient or nursing home stays overlapping July 2018--January 2019, with LST templates documented by January 31, 2019, and who died by April 30, 2019 (N = 18,163). From template documentation, we identified a "to be comfortable" goal. Using VA and Medicare data we determined PC use (consultations and hospice) and hospital, intensive care unit (ICU) and emergency department (ED) use 7 and 30 days before death. Multivariate logistic regression examined the associations of interest.
RESULTS: Sixty-four percent of the 18,163 Veterans had comfort-care goals; 80% with comfort-care goals received hospice and 57% PC consultations (versus 57% and 46% [respectively] for decedents without comfort-care goals). In adjusted analyses, comfort care documented on the LST template prior to death was associated with significantly lower odds of hospital, ICU and ED use near the end of life. In the last 30 days of life Veterans with a comfort care goal had 44% lower odds (adjusted odds ratio 0.57; 95% CI: 0.51, 0.63) of being hospitalized.
CONCLUSION: Findings support the VA's commitment to honoring of Veterans' preferences post introduction of its LSTDI.
KEY MESSAGE: This study examines the association between comfort care goals and care near the end of life for Veteran decedents cared for after the Veterans Health Administration's Introduction of its Life-Sustaining Treatment Decisions Initiative. Findings show Veteran decedents with comfort care goals received care that appears concordant with their preferences.
Ensuring burn patients get appropriate care without pursuing futile treatment has always constituted a challenging balance for burn surgeons. Patients with no prospect of cure who eventually die should potentially experience more comfortable and peaceful end-of-life (EoL) care. Recognizing that death for some patients is inevitable and can only be postponed but not avoided would open the way to a more humane comfort care for such patients. Though comfort EoL services are still not universal in burns intensive care units (ICU) and disparities still exist in access, and use of palliative care appears underutilized, its integration in the burns ICU has increased over the past decade with undeniable benefits. Palliative care consultations should be considered in select burn patients for whom survival is highly unlikely.
Ce rapport avait pour objectif de guider l'action et le questionnement professionnels pour permettre le respect maximal des volontés liées à la fin de vie et un accompagnement le plus humain possible de la personne et des proches. Voici les résultats obtenus par le groupe de travail :
- Anticiper les situations de fin de vie en favorisant les échanges et en s’appuyant au maximum sur les ressources disponibles que ce soit au sein des équipes ou avec les partenaires du territoire.
- Informer et communiquer régulièrement sur les actions mises en œuvre, les adaptations qui s’imposent en période d’épidémie et les évolutions possibles des situations de fin de vie dont le décès.
- Garantir le confort de la personne et respecter les souhaits de chacun tout en prenant des décisions partagées lorsque des arbitrages s’imposent.
- Maintenir le lien avec les proches et l’entourage et leur apporter un soutien lors de la survenue du décès.
- Soutenir l’ensemble des professionnels dont la charge émotionnelle s’est accentuée.
- Préparer le deuil en offrant la possibilité aux personnes accompagnées et aux professionnels de partager un geste un moment, en mémoire de la personne.
Caring for persons at the end of life has dramatically changed in the last 20 years. Improved chronic illness management and aggressive life-sustaining measures for once-fatal illnesses have significantly increased longevity. People with life-limiting illnesses and their families are asked to make complex and difficult decisions about end-of-life, palliative, and hospice care. The purpose of this study was to discover and describe the culture care expressions, patterns, and practices influencing rural Appalachian families making decisions at the end of life. The qualitative, ethnonursing research method was used to analyze data from 25 interviews. The 4 themes discovered provide insights that could help improve this underserved population's access to palliative and hospice care, which in turn could help them experience a dignified death. Recommendations for health care providers could help reduce rural Appalachians' health disparities and promote meaningful, culturally congruent end-of-life care.
BACKGROUND: Use of hospice has grown among patients with heart failure; however, gaps remain in the ability of agencies to tailor services to meet their needs.
AIM: This study describes the implementation of a cardiac home hospice program and insights for dissemination to other hospice programs.
DESIGN: We conducted a multimethod analysis structured around the Reach Effectiveness Adoption Implementation and Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework.
SETTINGS/PARTICIPANTS: We used electronic medical records for our quantitative data source and interviews with hospice clinicians from a not-for-profit hospice agency (N = 32) for our qualitative data source.
RESULTS: Reach-A total of 1273 participants were enrolled in the cardiac home hospice program, of which 57% were female and 42% were black or Hispanic with a mean age was 86 years. Effectiveness-The cardiac home hospice program increased hospice enrollment among patients with heart failure from 7.9% to 9.5% over 1 year (2016-2017). Adoption-Institutional factors that supported the program included the acute need to support medically complex patients at the end of life and an engaged clinical champion. Implementation-Program implementation was supported by interdisciplinary teams who engaged in care coordination. Maintenance-The program has been maintained for over 3 years.
CONCLUSION: The cardiac home hospice program strengthened hospice clinicians' ability to confidently provide care for patients with heart failure, expanded awareness of their symptoms among clinicians, and was associated with increased enrollment of patients with heart failure over the study period. This RE-AIM evaluation provides lessons learned and strategies for future adoption, implementation, and maintenance of a cardiac home hospice program.
Objectives: Facilitating a high quality of death is an important aspect of comfort care for patients in ICUs. The quality of death in ICUs has been rarely reported in Asian countries. Although Korea is currently in the early stage after the implementation of the “well-dying” law, this seems to have a considerable effect on practice. In this study, we aimed to understand the status of quality of death in Korean ICUs as perceived by medical staff, and to elucidate factors affecting patient quality of death.
Design: A multicenter cross-sectional survey study.
Setting: Medical ICUs of two tertiary-care teaching hospitals and two secondary-care hospitals.
Patients: Deceased patients from June 2016 to May 2017.
Interventions: Relevant medical staff were asked to complete a translated Quality of Dying and Death questionnaire within 48 hours after a patient’s death. A higher Quality of Dying and Death score (ranged from 0 to 100) corresponded to a better quality of death.
Measurements and Main Results: A total of 416 completed questionnaires were obtained from 177 medical staff (66 doctors and 111 nurses) of 255 patients. All 20 items of the Quality of Dying and Death received low scores. Quality of death perceived by nurses was better than that perceived by doctors (33.1 ± 18.4 vs 29.7 ± 15.3; p = 0.042). Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation and using inotropes within 24 hours before death were associated with poorer quality of death, whereas using analgesics was associated with better quality of death.
Conclusions: The quality of death of patients in Korean ICUs was considerably poorer than reported in other countries. Provision of appropriate comfort care, avoidance of unnecessary life-sustaining care, and permission for more frequent visits from patients’ families may correspond to better quality of death in Korean medical ICUs. It is also expected that the new legislation would positively affect the quality of death in Korean ICUs.
The field of critical care nursing is multidimensional and filled with opportunities to bring change to current practice. In the United States, nearly 13% of patients (range, 8%-24%) admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) die during or after the admission (https://www.dartmouthatlas.org/interactive-apps/end-of-life-care/). Critical care nurses provide care at every stage of acute and chronic illness. Often this includes care of the patient and family at end of life, guided by palliative care principles supported by the national guidelines including the American Association of Critical Care (Dimens Crit Care Nurs 2017;36(2):110-115). While enrolled in the final registered nurse–to–bachelor of science in nursing (RN-to-BSN) course, students are challenged to complete a quality improvement (QI) project. The project leader noted a clinical problem in the ICU. The landmark Dying in America report, as well as published theories on comfort, and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Open School Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) model were used as the theoretical foundation for a clinical practice change. This assignment was the impetus to provide items at the bedside using a comfort cart. Description of this nurse-driven pilot project initiative includes a replicable guide of implementing a comfort care cart, transforming the patient's room into a home-like atmosphere for the families at the bedside.
Objectives: We aimed to investigate the occurrence rates of clinical events and their associations with comfort in dying nursing home residents with and without dementia.
Methods: Epidemiological after-death survey was performed in nationwide representative samples of 322 nursing homes in Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and England. Nursing staff reported clinical events and assessed comfort. The nursing staff or physician assessed the presence of dementia; severity was determined using two highly discriminatory staff-reported instruments.
Results: The sample comprised 401 residents with advanced dementia, 377 with other stages of dementia, and 419 without dementia (N = 1197). Across the three groups, pneumonia occurred in 24 to 27% of residents. Febrile episodes (unrelated to pneumonia) occurred in 39% of residents with advanced dementia, 34% in residents with other stages of dementia and 28% in residents without dementia (P = .03). Intake problems occurred in 74% of residents with advanced dementia, 55% in residents with other stages of dementia, and 48% in residents without dementia (P < .001). Overall, these three clinical events were inversely associated with comfort. Less comfort was observed in all resident groups who had pneumonia (advanced dementia, P = .04; other stages of dementia, P = .04; without dementia, P < .001). Among residents with intake problems, less comfort was observed only in those with other stages of dementia (P < .001) and without dementia (P = .003), while the presence and severity of dementia moderated this association (P = .03). Developing “other clinical events” was not associated with comfort.
Conclusions: Discomfort was observed in dying residents who developed major clinical events, especially pneumonia, which was not specific to advanced dementia. It is crucial to identify and address the clinical events potentially associated with discomfort in dying residents with and without dementia.
Improving the end of life care experience of people dying in acute care has become a priority for our organization since 2016 with the launch of the "Quality Living and Dying Initiative." This initiative has three distinct foci. The first two areas of focus, advance care planning and standardized comfort measures, are well established while the third focus bereavement program remains in its early stages. Bereavement is recognized as an essential component along the continuum of palliative care. Despite this recognition, bereavement care is often lacking in hospital settings. This paper will describe a telephone bereavement initiative spearheaded by the Spiritual Care Team at our organization.
Palliative principles are increasingly within the scope of emergency medicine (EM). In EM, there remain untapped opportunities to improve primary palliative care (PC) and integrate patients earlier into the palliative continuum. However, the emergency department (ED) differs from other practice environments with its unique systemic pressures, priorities, and expectations. To build effective, efficient, and sustainable partnerships, palliative clinicians are best served by understanding the ED's practice priorities. The authors, each EM and Hospice and Palliative Medicine board certified and in active practice, present these 10 high-yield tips to optimize the ED consultation by PC teams.
Context: Despite the preference to pass away at home, many dementia patients die in institutions, resulting in a paucity of studies examining end-of-life care outcomes in the home setting.
Objective: To identify modifiable factors associated with the comfort of dementia patients dying at home and families’ satisfaction with care.
Methods: This is a prospective cohort study conducted from October 2014 to April 2019 in Singapore. Dementia patients at Stage 7 on the Functional Assessment Staging Scale, with albumin<35g/L, enteral feeding or pneumonia were recruited from a palliative homecare programme. Independent variables included demographics, medical information and care preferences. The Comfort Assessment in Dying with Dementia scale assessed dying patients’ comfort while the Satisfaction with Care at the End-of-Life in Dementia scale evaluated family caregivers’ satisfaction two months post-bereavement. Gamma regression identified factors independently associated with comfort and satisfaction.
Results: The median age of 202 deceased patients whose comfort was assessed was 88 years. Anti-cholinergic prescription (60.4% of patients) [ß (95% CI) = 1.823 (0.660–2.986), P = 0.002] was positively associated with comfort, whereas opioid prescription (89.6%) [ß (95% CI) = -2.179 (-4.107 to -0.251), P = 0.027] and >1 antibiotic courses used in the last two weeks of life (77.2%) [ß (95% CI) = -1.968 (-3.196 to -0.740), P = 0.002] were negatively associated. Independent factors associated with families' satisfaction with care were comfort [ß (95% CI) = 0.149 (0.012–0.286), P = 0.033] and honoring of medical intervention preferences (96.0%) [ß (95% CI) = 3.969 (1.485–6.453), P = 0.002].
Conclusion: Achieving comfort and satisfaction with care for dementia patients dying at home involves an interplay of modifiable factors. Honouring medical intervention preferences, such as those with palliative intent associated with patients’ comfort determined families’ satisfaction with care.
Some of the most ethically challenging and emotionally demanding aspects of nursing occur in caring for patients and their family at the end of life. The aims of this study were to examine the views of acute care nurses caring for patients during transition to comfort care, to describe the personal impact on nurses, and to identify nurses’ strategies for self-support and development of competence. Using a qualitative descriptive approach, we analyzed data from 26 semistructured interviews.
Nurses experienced moral distress in situations of continuing treatment when a cure was unlikely. In managing symptoms for patients, they struggled to foster an often-tenuous balance of patient comfort and calm without oversedation. They struggled to manage the competing demands of a workload including patients receiving curative care juxtaposed with those focused on comfort care. Nurses reflected on their fears as new nurses caring for end-of-life patients, the inadequacy of their preparation for this role, and their distress when the care provided felt inadequate to them.
Nurses navigated challenges through support from nurse colleagues and effective leaders. They appealed to administrators to attend to care concerns arising from time-intensive nature of care. Mentoring and education facilitated assimilation to comfort-care nursing for novice nurses.
The prevalence of urinary incontinence increases as a person ages, as age-related changes make it more difficult to maintain continence. Long-term conditions and treatments prescribed to treat conditions, such as heart failure, can lead to an urgency to void the bladder. Frailty can make it difficult for an older person to respond this need. At end of life, mobility is often compromised and people can experience extreme fatigue. Caregivers can obtain support to manage an individual's incontinence during the day but often struggle alone at night. Caregivers can become exhausted and a situation can reach breaking point. Working with the older person and caregivers to determine the goals of care and how to meet them can make a huge difference. It can take the pressure off the entire family, meet a person's needs and enable the person to stay at home. This article aims to enable nurses to understand the problems older people may experience and how to work with the older person and caregivers to develop solutions that maintain dignity and enhance quality of life.
CONTEXT: Patients with severe burns may face distressing symptoms with a high risk of mortality as a result of their injury. The role of palliative care in burns management remains unclear.
OBJECTIVE: To appraise the literature on the role of palliative care in burns management.
METHODS: Scoping review with searches in twelve databases from their inception to August 2019. The citation retrieval and retention are reported in a PRISMA statement.
FINDINGS: 39 papers comprising of 30 primary studies (26 from high income and 4 from middle income countries), 4 reviews, 2 editorials, 2 guidelines and 1 expert board review document were retained in the review. Palliative care is used synonymously with comfort and end of life care in burns literature. Comfort care is mostly initiated when active treatment is withheld (early deaths) or withdrawn (late deaths), limiting its overall benefits to burn patients, their families and health care professionals. Futility decisions are usually complex and challenging, particularly for patients in the late death category and it is unclear if these decisions result in timely commencement of comfort care measures. Two comfort care pathways were identified but it remained unclear how these pathways evaluated 'good death' or supported the family which creates the need for the development of other evidence-based guidelines.
CONCLUSION: Palliative care is applicable in burns management but its current role is mostly confined to the end of life period suggesting that it is not been fully integrated in the management process. Evidence-based guidelines are needed to support the integration and delivery of palliative care in the burn patient population.
"When death knocks at the door of our ward, we do not easily open the door", an intensivist once said. In the intensive care unit (ICU) and emergency department, care is strongly focused on cure and resuscitation. Notwithstanding the technological progress made in intensive and emergency medecine, a substantial number of the partients admitted to the ICU cannot be saved.