Background: Community transmission of coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) was detected in the state of Washington in February 2020.
Methods: We identified patients from nine Seattle-area hospitals who were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) with confirmed infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). Clinical data were obtained through review of medical records. The data reported here are those available through March 23, 2020. Each patient had at least 14 days of follow-up.
Results: We identified 24 patients with confirmed Covid-19. The mean (±SD) age of the patients was 64±18 years, 63% were men, and symptoms began 7±4 days before admission. The most common symptoms were cough and shortness of breath; 50% of patients had fever on admission, and 58% had diabetes mellitus. All the patients were admitted for hypoxemic respiratory failure; 75% (18 patients) needed mechanical ventilation. Most of the patients (17) also had hypotension and needed vasopressors. No patient tested positive for influenza A, influenza B, or other respiratory viruses. Half the patients (12) died between ICU day 1 and day 18, including 4 patients who had a do-not-resuscitate order on admission. Of the 12 surviving patients, 5 were discharged home, 4 were discharged from the ICU but remained in the hospital, and 3 continued to receive mechanical ventilation in the ICU.
Conclusions: During the first 3 weeks of the Covid-19 outbreak in the Seattle area, the most common reasons for admission to the ICU were hypoxemic respiratory failure leading to mechanical ventilation, hypotension requiring vasopressor treatment, or both. Mortality among these critically ill patients was high. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health.)
Introduction: Although shortcomings in clinician–family communication and decision making for incapacitated, critically ill patients are common, there are few rigorously tested interventions to improve outcomes. In this manuscript, we present our methodology for the Pairing Re-engineered Intensive Care Unit Teams with Nurse-Driven Emotional support and Relationship Building (PARTNER 2) trial, and discuss design challenges and their resolution.
Methods and analysis: This is a pragmatic, stepped-wedge, cluster randomised controlled trial comparing the PARTNER 2 intervention to usual care among 690 incapacitated, critically ill patients and their surrogates in five ICUs in Pennsylvania. Eligible subjects will include critically ill patients at high risk of death and/or severe long-term functional impairment, their main surrogate decision-maker and their clinicians. The PARTNER intervention is delivered by the interprofessional ICU team and overseen by 4–6 nurses from each ICU. It involves: (1) advanced communication skills training for nurses to deliver support to surrogates throughout the ICU stay; (2) deploying a structured family support pathway; (3) enacting strategies to foster collaboration between ICU and palliative care services and (4) providing intensive implementation support to each ICU to incorporate the family support pathway into clinicians’ workflow. The primary outcome is surrogates’ ratings of the quality of communication during the ICU stay as assessed by telephone at 6-month follow-up. Prespecified secondary outcomes include surrogates’ scores on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the Impact of Event Scale, the modified Patient Perception of Patient Centredness scale, the Decision Regret Scale, nurses’ scores on the Maslach Burnout Inventory, and length of stay during and costs of the index hospitalisation.
We also discuss key methodological challenges, including determining the optimal level of randomisation, using existing staff to deploy the intervention and maximising long-term follow-up of participants.
Ethics and dissemination: We obtained ethics approval through the University of Pittsburgh, Human Research Protection Office. The findings will be published in peer-reviewed journals.
Purpose: Intensive care unit health care professionals must be skilled in providing end-of-life care. Crucial in this kind of care is end-of-life decision-making, which is a complex process involving a variety of stakeholders and requiring adequate justification. The aim of this systematic review is to analyse papers tackling ethical issues in relation to end-of-life decision-making in intensive care units. It explores the ethical positions, arguments and principles.
Methods: A literature search was conducted in bibliographic databases and grey literature sources for the time period from 1990 to 2019. The constant comparative method was used for qualitative analysis of included papers in order to identify ethical content including ethical positions, ethical arguments, and ethical principles used in decision-making process.
Results: In the 15 included papers we have identified a total of 43 ethical positions. Ten positions were identified as substantive, 33 as procedural. Twelve different ethical principles emerged from the ethical arguments. The most frequently used principles are the principles of beneficence, autonomy and nonmaleficence.
Conclusions: We have demonstrated that recommendations and guidelines designed specifically by intensive or critical care experts for intensive care units promote similar ethical positions, with minimal dissenting positions.
Background: The relationship between clinical course and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) status has not been well studied in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) setting.
Objective: To describe the relationship between DNR order placement and clinical course.
Design: Single center retrospective cohort study.
Setting/Subjects: Patients, ages 0–18 years, who have died in the PICU from 2008 to 2016.
Measurements: Retrospective chart review of DNR status, patient characteristics, and clinical course. We compared length of stay and number of consults/procedures/imaging studies done on patients with early DNR (>48 hours before death), late DNR (within 48 hours of death), and no DNR order placement.
Results: One-hundred and sixty-one children were included. Nearly half (48%) were male with median (interquartile range) age of 3 years (0–12). One-third (58) had an underlying oncologic diagnosis. Eighteen percent (29/161) were classified as early DNR, 33% (53/161) as late DNR, and 49% (79/161) as no DNR. We found no differences in patient characteristics or risk of mortality at admission among the groups. The early DNR group showed decreased number of invasive procedures (0.68), imaging studies (1), and consults (0.21) per day when compared with the late (2, 1.53, 0.50) and no DNR groups (2.09, 1.73, 0.43).
Conclusion: Our results suggest that early DNR placement in the PICU is associated with a change in clinical course centered around less invasive care. Earlier DNR placement can potentially trigger a shift in care goals that could improve the quality of life for patients and mitigate emotional and physical toll on patients and their families during the highly stressful end-of-life time period.
Purpose: Racial and ethnic minority patients receive poorer quality end-of-life (EoL) care compared with white patients. Differences in quality of communication (QOC) with clinicians may contribute to these disparities. We measured differences in satisfaction with communication in the intensive care unit (ICU) by race and ethnicity.
Materials and Methods: This is a cross-sectional survey of family members of patients in ICUs of an academic medical center serving a diverse urban population using The Family Satisfaction with the ICU (FS-ICU) and QOC scales.
Results: One hundred surveys were completed (18.8% white, non-Hispanic; 34.4% black, non-Hispanic; 31.3% Hispanic; 15.6% other race/ethnicity). Mean FS-ICU score was 84.2 (standard deviation [SD] 20.5) for white patients, 83.3 (SD 16.2) for black patients, 82.7 (SD 17.8) for Hispanic or Latino patients, and 80.9 (SD 18.8) for patients with other race/ethnicity (Kruskal-Wallis, P = .92). Differences remained insignificant when controlling for patient and respondent characteristics. The QOC scale was not scored due to nonresponse levels on questions about EoL communication.
Conclusions: Uniformly high ratings may have been influenced by avoidance of EoL discussion. This study is inconclusive regarding whether QOC influences disparities in EoL care since quality of EoL communication was not captured.
Background: With advances in medicine and technology, intensive care units (ICUs) have the capacity to treat patients who would have previously not been expected to survive and would therefore not have been managed in ICUs. When an individual is not expected to survive, doctors and nurses face the modern ethical dilemma of death associated with withdrawal of life-supporting strategies. The aim of this study was to identify difficulties perceived by ICU nurses providing end-of-life care (EOLC) in Poland.
Methods: The qualitative study was designed to investigate the difficulties, and the related barriers, to EOLC provided in ICUs in Poland. We conducted individual telephone interviews with ICU nurses from across Poland.
Results: The main issues raised during the interviews included (1) barriers attributable to the hospital, (2) barriers related to the patient’s family, and (3) barriers related to the ICU personnel providing direct EOLC. The interviewed nurses considered the lack of support from managers to be the main barrier. We found that ICU nurses in Poland dealt with end-of-life aspects that were emotionally and psychologically taxing. In addition, they lacked specialized training in this area, especially with regard to family care and care provision.
Conclusions: A pressing need exists to improve facilities and make equipment ensuring a desirable standard of care more available. Specialized palliative care training programs should be incorporated into compulsory nursing curricula for ICU nurses.
Background: Heart failure (HF) impacts 6.2 million American adults. With no cure, therapies aim to prevent progression and manage symptoms. Inclusion of palliative care (PC) helps improve symptoms and quality of life. Heart failure guidelines recommend the inclusion of PC in HF therapy, but referrals are often delayed.
Objective: Introduce PC to patients with HF and examine the impact on PC consults, readmission, mortality, and intensive care unit (ICU) transfers.
Methods: Patients (n = 60) admitted with HF to an academic hospital were asked to view a PC educational module. A number of PC consults, re-admissions, mortality, and transfers to the ICU were compared among participants and those who declined.
Results: Nine patients in the intervention group (n = 30) requested a PC consult ( P = .042) versus 2 in the usual care group (n = 30; P = .302). There was no statistically significant difference in readmissions, mortality, or ICU transfers between groups.
Conclusions: Palliative care education increases the likelihood of PC utilization but in this short-term project was not found to statistically impact mortality, re-admissions, or transfers to higher levels of care.
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.
Mortality rates in adult critical care settings can range from 10% to 29%. This leaves a contingent of family members enduring the impact of a loved one's death in the intensive care unit (ICU). Family-centered care (FCC) guidelines in critical care advocate for addressing both the patients' and families' needs and values, which includes bereavement care. Therefore, the purpose of this literature review is to provide direction for bereavement care through evaluating common components of bereavement programs and help guide ICU professionals in bereavement program planning and development.
Dr. Wakam: I’m 5 hours into my ICU shift at a community hospital in Detroit when the results of another arterial blood gas return. My patient has been hospitalized for 3 days and is Covid-19–positive. Over the past 12 hours, his treatment has progressed from intubation, to prone positioning on 100% fractional inspired oxygen, to medically induced paralysis, and finally to bilevel ventilation. The results from the arterial blood gas are dismal: pH 7.19, pCO2 70.1, pO2 63.7, HCO3 26.0. He has already experienced episodes of profound hypoxia when we try to rotate him into a supine position, and his heart has begun to show signs of strain, with periods of atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response and nonsustained runs of ventricular tachycardia. A request to transfer the patient for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is denied. It’s 11 p.m., and I’m worried that my patient won’t survive until morning.
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BACKGROUND: Little is known about the characteristics of patients needing palliative care consultation in the ED. This study aimed to investigate the impacts of initiating screening in acute critically ill patients needing palliative care on mortality, healthcare resources, and end-of-life care (EOL) in the intensive care unit in ED (EICU).
METHODS: We conducted an analysis study in Taipei Veterans General Hospital. From February 1 to July 31, 2018, acute critically ill patients in EICU were recruited. The primary outcomes were inhospital mortality and EOL care. The secondary outcomes included clinical characteristics and healthcare utilization.
RESULTS: A total of 796 patients were screened, with 396 eligible and 400 non-eligible patients needing palliative care consultations. The mean age was 74.8 ± 17.1 years, and 62.6% of the patients were male. According to logistic regression analysis, clinical predictors, including age (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.028; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.015-1.042), respiratory distress and/or respiratory failure (AOR, 2.670; 95% CI, 1.829-3.897), the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score (AOR, 1.036; 95% CI, 1.009-1.064), Charlson Comorbidity Index score (AOR, 1.212; 95% CI, 1.125-1.306), and Glasgow Coma Scale (AOR, 0.843; 95% CI, 0.802-0.885), were statistically more significant in eligible patients than in non-eligible patients. The inhospital mortality rate was significantly higher in eligible patients than that in non-eligible patients (40.7% vs. 11.5%, p < 0.01). Eligible patients have a higher ratio in both vasopressor and narcotic use and withdrawal of endotracheal tube than non-eligible patients (p < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Our study results demonstrated that initiating palliative consultation for acute critically ill patients in ED had an impact on the utilization of healthcare resources and quality of EOL care. Further assessments of the viewpoints of ED patients and their family regarding palliative care consultations and hospice care are required.
Background: Communication between clinicians and families of dying children in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) is critically important for optimal care of the child and the family.
Objective: We examined the current state of clinician perspective on communication with families of dying children in the PICU.
Design: Prospective case series over a 15-month study period.
Setting/Subjects: We surveyed nurses, psychosocial staff, and physicians who cared for dying children in PICUs at five U.S. academic hospitals.
Measurements: Clinicians reported on the location of communication, perceived barriers to end-of-life care, and rated the quality of communication (QOC).
Results: We collected 565 surveys from 287 clinicians who cared for 169 dying children. Clinicians reported that the majority of communication occurred at the bedside, and less commonly family conferences and rounds. Ten barriers to care were examined and were reported with frequencies of 2%–32%. QOC was rated higher when the majority of conversations occurred during family conferences (p = 0.01) and lower for patients of non-white race (p = 0.03). QOC decreased when 8 of the 10 barriers to care were reported.
Conclusions: When a child is dying, clinicians report that communication with the family occurs most frequently at the child's bedside. This has important implications for future ICU communication research as the majority of previous research and education has focused on family care conferences. In addition, findings that QOC is perceived as lower for non-white patients and when clinicians perceive that barriers hindering care are present can help direct future efforts to improve communication in the PICU.
BACKGROUND: Gravely ill patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), and their families experience acute spiritual and existential needs and often require complex decisions about their care. Little is known about what constitutes chaplaincy care for patients or families in ICUs. Chaplains report that participation in medical decision-making is part of their role.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the spiritual care provided to patients and their families in the ICU.
METHODS: This was a retrospective observational study of spiritual care for patients and families in the medical ICUs (MICUs) at 4 medical centers over a 3-month period. Inclusion criteria were death in the MICU or discharge to palliative care or hospice. Measures included medical, treatment, and spiritual care information (number of visits, length of visit, chaplain categories, and type of spiritual care provided).
RESULTS: Of the 254 patients, 197 (78%) received a total of 485 spiritual care visits. Seventy-seven percent of visits included provision of emotional/spiritual support; only 15% included decision-making support such as family meetings or goals-of-care conversations. The proportion receiving spiritual care increased as patients neared death or discharge. Staff chaplains were involved in goals-of-care conversations to a greater extent than student or part-time chaplains (P < .05).
CONCLUSION: Spiritual care was provided to most patients and/or families at the end of life. Low chaplain involvement in decision-making in the MICU suggests opportunities to improve chaplains' contributions to ICU care.
Background. Modern intensive care methods led to an increased survival of critically ill patients over the last decades. But an unreflected application of modern intensive care measures might lead to prolonged treatment for incurable diseases, and an inadaequate or too aggressive therapy can prolong the dying process of patients. In this study, we analysed end-of-life decisions regarding withholding and withdrawal of intensive care measures in a German intensive care unit (ICU) of a communal tertiary hospital.
Methods. Patient datasets of all adult patients dying in an ICU or an intermediate care unit (IMC) in a tertiary communal hospital (Klinikum Hanau, Germany) between 01.01.2011 and 31.12.2012 were analysed for withholding and withdrawal of intensive care measures.
Results. During the two-year period, 1317 adult patients died in Klinikum Hanau. Of these, 489 (37%) died either in an ICU/IMC unit. The majority of those deceased patients (n = 427, 87%) was 60 years or older. In 306 (62%) of 489 patients, at least one life-sustaining measure was withheld or withdrawn. In 297 (61%) of 489 patients dying in ICU/IMC, any type of therapy was withheld, and in 139 patients (28%), any type of therapy was withdrawn. Mostly, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (n = 222), invasive (n = 121) and noninvasive (n = 40) ventilation followed by renal replacement therapy (n = 71) and catecholamine therapy (n = 66) were withheld. More invasive measures as ventilation or renal replacement therapy were withdrawn in 18 and 22 patients only. After withholding/withdrawal of therapy, most patients died within two days. More than 20% of patients dying in ICU/IMC did not have an analgesic medication.
Conclusions. About one-third of patients dying in the hospital died in ICU/IMC. At least one life-sustaining therapy was limited/withdrawn in more than 60% of those patients. Withholding of a therapy was more common than active therapy withdrawal. Ventilation and renal replacement therapy were withdrawn in less than 5% of patients, respectively.
BACKGROUND: Societal attitudes about end-of-life events are at odds with how, where, and when children die. In addition, parents' ideas about what constitutes a "good death" in a pediatric intensive care unit vary widely.
OBJECTIVE: To synthesize parents' perspectives on end-of-life care in the pediatric intensive care unit in order to define the characteristics of a good death in this setting from the perspectives of parents.
METHODS: A concept analysis was conducted of parents' views of a good death in the pediatric intensive care unit. Empirical studies of parents who had experienced their child's death in the inpatient setting were identified through database searches.
RESULTS: The concept analysis allowed the definition of antecedents, attributes, and consequences of a good death. Empirical referents and exemplar cases of care of a dying child in the pediatric intensive care unit serve to further operationalize the concept.
CONCLUSIONS: Conceptual knowledge of what constitutes a good death from a parent's perspective may allow pediatric nurses to care for dying children in a way that promotes parents' coping with bereavement and continued bonds and memories of the deceased child. The proposed conceptual model synthesizes characteristics of a good death into actionable attributes to guide bedside nursing care of the dying child.
OBJECTIVE: To document (using available data) the profile of the patients seen by the hospital's palliative service (PS) and who died in the medicine intensive care unit (ICU) of the Veterans Affairs Caribbean Healthcare System.
METHODS: A record review of subjects who died in the ICU from January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2014. Demographic data, underlying comorbidities, the cause of death, the length of stay, evaluation made by the PS, and the withdrawal of life support (when such occurred) were recorded for each patient.
RESULTS: A total of 200 patients met the criteria, mostly males. All the women and 50% of the men were over 79 years old. Seventy three percent of the patients were on mechanical ventilation when admitted, most having come from the emergency department. Fewer than 15% had advance directives. Forty-nine percent had been admitted to a hospital facility at least once during the year prior to their current admission. Most of the patients (60.5%) died within the first week, while 13% died within the first 24 hours. PS was requested for 56% of those who survived more than 24 hours, of which only 10% underwent the withdrawal-of-care protocol.
CONCLUSION: A small percentage of the patients who died in the ICU had advance directives at the time of admission, this though all were of advanced age, had recently been discharged after a prior hospital stay, suffered from 1 or more chronic illnesses, or had a history of mental or physical disease. Our findings underscore the need for the early referral of patients of the type previously mentioned to a PS.
Approximately 30% of adults older than 65 years are treated in an intensive care unit (ICU) during the last month of life. Advance care planning (ACP)—a process that involves documenting wishes in an advance directive, appointing a surrogate decision maker, and having conversations about values, goals, and preferences—can give such persons more control over their care. By contrast, those without ACP risk receiving unwanted, high-intensity, lower-quality care. This can lead to individual harms, including pain and suffering, and family harms, including psychosocial and financial distress. We therefore examined ACP completion among older adults treated in an ICU during their last month of life to determine the prevalence and factors associated with no ACP.
Background: Death and dying care is an area with less attention in nursing. This even is evidenced as more challenging in some populations such as neonates. Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses should be aware of the quality of care they provide for dying neonates and their families to find the areas which need attention.
Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the psychometric features of the Quality of Dying and Death (QODD) questionnaire in NICU nurses in Tehran, the capital city of Iran.
Methods: This methodological study was conducted in 2017. For this purpose, using census method, 130 NICU nurses working in selected hospitals participated. After the backward-forward translation, based on the method proposed by the International Test Commission, the psychometric properties of the Persian QODD were examined through the assessment of the face, content and construct validity, internal consistency, and stability.
Results: Final Persian QODD's content and face validity were accepted through a qualitative method. In the confirmatory factor analysis, the original version of QODD was not confirmed. Subsequently, an exploratory factor analysis was carried out in which phrases were included in three dimensions (symptom control, preparation for death of neonate, and professional attention) that explained 75% of the variance. Cronbach's alpha values ranged from 0.82 to 0.88 for these three dimensions. The intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) was ICC = 0.94 between two tests performed with a 2-week interval on twenty eligible nurses.
Conclusions: The Persian version of QODD has acceptable psychometric properties in nurses working with the neonatal population and can be used to investigate the NICU nurses' opinion on the QODD provided in NICU patients.
In recent years, increases in medical technologies in the critical care setting have advanced the practice of medicine, enabling patients to live longer while also creating dilemmas for end-of-life decision-making. Clinicians have increasingly been called on to involve patients and family members in decision-making through a process of shared decision-making (SDM), yet less is known about how SDM plays out in the critical care setting and the ways in which clinicians engage in SDM. Using observational data from 14 months of ethnographic fieldwork in two intensive care units and interviews with 33 family members of 25 critically ill patients and 51 clinicians, I explore how clinicians refer to the choices available in medical decision-making paradoxically as a 'buffet' of choice while they simultaneously recognise that such rhetoric is misaligned with complex and emotional decision-making, often involving pain and suffering. Lastly, this paper considers the role of SDM and the ways in which clinicians push back on the 'buffet' rhetoric and engage in practices to guide families in end-of-life decision-making by granting permission for families to make decisions and validating their decisions to decline treatment when there is an opportunity for more treatment.
OBJECTIVES: Describe pediatric palliative care consult in children with heart disease; retrospectively apply Center to Advance Palliative Care criteria for pediatric palliative care consults; determine the impact of pediatric palliative care on end of life.
DESIGN: A retrospective single-center study.
SETTING: A 16-bed cardiac ICU in a university-affiliated tertiary care children's hospital.
PATIENTS: Children (0-21 yr old) with heart disease admitted to the cardiac ICU from January 2014 to June 2017.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Over 1,000 patients (n = 1, 389) were admitted to the cardiac ICU with 112 (8%) receiving a pediatric palliative care consultation. Patients who received a consult were different from those who did not. Patients who received pediatric palliative care were younger at first hospital admission (median 63 vs 239 d; p = 0.003), had a higher median number of complex chronic conditions at the end of first hospitalization (3 vs 1; p < 0.001), longer cumulative length of stay in the cardiac ICU (11 vs 2 d; p < 0.001) and hospital (60 vs 7 d; p < 0.001), and higher mortality rates (38% vs 3%; p < 0.001). When comparing location and modes of death, patients who received pediatric palliative care were more likely to die at home (24% vs 2%; p = 0.02) and had more comfort care at the end of life (36% vs 2%; p = 0.002) compared to those who did not. The Center to Advance Palliative Care guidelines identified 158 patients who were eligible for pediatric palliative care consultation; however, only 30 patients (19%) in our sample received a consult.
CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric palliative care consult rarely occurred in the cardiac ICU. Patients who received a consult were medically complex and experienced high mortality. Comfort care at the end of life and death at home was more common when pediatric palliative care was consulted. Missed referrals were apparent when Center to Advance Palliative Care criteria were retrospectively applied.