BACKGROUND: New population health community-based models of palliative care can result in more compassionate, affordable, and sustainable high-quality care.
OBJECTIVES: We evaluated utilization and cost outcomes of a standardized, population health community-based palliative care program provided by nurses and social workers.
DESIGN: We conducted a retrospective propensity-adjusted study to quantify cost savings and resource utilization associated with a community-based palliative care program. We analyzed claims data from a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan and used a proprietary predictive model to identify 804 members at high risk for overmedicalized end-of-life care. We enrolled 204 members in the palliative care program and compared them with 600 who received standard, telephonic, health plan case management. We excluded members with fewer than two months of enrolled experience or those with insufficient data for analysis, leaving 176 members in the study group and 570 in the control group for evaluation. We compared differences in utilization and costs (medical and pharmacy), hospital admissions, bed days (acute and intensive care unit [ICU]), and emergency department visits.
SETTING/SUBJECTS: A 30,000-member MA plan and a health system in Central Ohio between October 2015 and June 2016.
RESULTS: Members who received community-based palliative care showed a statistically significant 20% reduction in total medical costs ($619 per enrolled member per month), 38% reduction in ICU admissions, 33% reduction in hospital admissions, and 12% reduction in hospital days.
CONCLUSION: A structured nurse and social work model of community-based palliative care using a predictive model to identify MA candidates for intervention can reduce utilization and medical costs.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the association between the number of chronic conditions and hospital utilization at the end of life.
BACKGROUND: An understanding of the association of multimorbidity with health care utilization at the end of life may inform interventions to improve quality of care for these patients.
METHODS: A mortality follow-back analysis using Washington State death records and electronic health records. Subject included patients in the UW Medicine system who had at least one chronic condition and died between 2010 and 2015. Utilization was measured by inpatient admissions, emergency department use, and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions in the last 30 days of life.
RESULTS: For all utilization types, patients with three or more chronic conditions (n = 5124) had significantly higher utilization (p < 0.001) in the last 30 days of life than those with two (n = 5775) or one condition (n = 11,169). Comparing 3 versus 2 versus 1 conditions, the following percentages of patients had each type of utilization: inpatient admissions (37% vs. 28% vs. 19%), ED admissions (5% vs. 4% vs. 2%), and ICU care (28% vs. 20% vs. 12%).
DISCUSSION: Multimorbidity was associated with greater health care utilization at the end of life among patients representing a range of ages and covered by diverse insurers.
PURPOSE: Family meetings in the medical intensive care unit can improve outcomes. Little is known about when meetings occur in practice. We aimed to determine the time from admission to family meetings in the medical intensive care unit and assess the relationship of meetings with mortality.
METHODS: We performed a prospective cohort study of critically ill adult patients admitted to the medical intensive care unit at an urban academic medical center. Using manual chart review, the primary outcome was any attempt at holding a family meeting within 72 hours of admission. Competing risk models estimated the time from admission to family meeting and to patient death or discharge.
RESULTS: Of the 131 patients who met inclusion criteria in the 12-month study period, the median time from admission to family meeting was 4 days. Fewer than half of patients had a documented family meeting within 72 hours of admission (n = 60/131, 46%), with substantial interphysician variability in meeting rates ranging from 28% to 63%. Patients with family meetings within 72 hours were 30 times more likely to die within 72 hours (32% vs 1%, P < .001). Of the 55 patients who died in the intensive care unit, 27 (49%) had their first family meeting within 1 day of death.
CONCLUSIONS: Family meetings occur considerably later than 72 hours and are often held in close proximity to a patient's death. This suggests for some physicians, family meetings may primarily be used to negotiate withdrawal of life support rather than to support the patient and family.
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to provide a comprehensive exploration of nurses' meaningful experiences of providing end-of-life care to patients and families in the intensive care unit (ICU). The objectives of this research were: (1) To explore what is meaningful practice for nurses regarding end-of-life care; (2) To describe how nurses create a good death in the intensive care unit and (3) To identify the challenges that nurses face that affect their meaningful experiences and ultimately the creation of a good death.
RESEARCH DESIGN: This study utilised an interpretive phenomenological approach using Van Manen's (1997) method.
SETTING: In-depth, face-to-face interviews were conducted with six intensive care nurses employed in a 32-bed medical/surgical intensive care unit of an academic tertiary care centre in Canada.
FINDINGS: The overarching theme from the analysis of this experience was "being able to make a difference" which was intricately woven around contributing to a good death. Three main themes were identified and included: creating a good death, navigating the challenges and making it work.
CONCLUSION: The findings reveal how intensive care nurses provide good end-of-life care and create good deaths for patients and families.
BACKGROUND: Little is known about the patterns of end-of-life (EOL) health care for older Mexican-Americans with or without a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD). Our objective was to investigate the frequency of acute hospital admissions, intensive care unit (ICU) use, and ventilator use during the last 30-days of life for deceased older Mexican-American Medicare Beneficiaries with and without an ADRD diagnosis.
METHODS: We used Medicare claims data linked with survey information from 1,090 participants (mean age of death 85.1 years) of the Hispanic EPESE. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to estimate the odds for hospitalization, ICU use, and ventilator use in the last 30-days of life for decedents with ADRD compared to those without ADRD. Generalized linear models were used to estimate risk ratio for length of hospital stay (LOS).
RESULTS: Within the last 30-days of life, 64.5% of decedents had an acute hospitalization (59.1% ADRD, 68.3% no ADRD), 33.9% had an ICU stay (31.3% ADRD, 35.8% no ADRD), and 17.2% used a ventilator (14.9% ADRD, 18.8% no ADRD). ADRD was associated with significantly lower hospitalizations (OR=0.67, 95% CI=0.50-0.89) and shorter LOS (RR=0.77, 95% CI=0.65-0.90).
CONCLUSION: Hospitalization, ICU stay, and ventilator use are common at the end of life for older Mexican-Americans. The lower hospitalization and shorter LOS of decedents with ADRD indicate a modest reduction in acute care use. Future research should investigate the impact of EOL planning on acute-care use and quality of life in terminally ill Mexican-American older adults.
OBJECTIVES: Use of intensive care is increasing in the United States and may be associated with high financial burden on patients and their families near the end of life. Our objective was to estimate out-of-pocket costs in the last year of life for individuals who required intensive care in the months prior to death and examine how these costs vary by insurance coverage.
DESIGN: Observational cohort study using seven waves of post-death interview data (2002-2014).
PARTICIPANTS: Decedents (n = 2,909) who spent time in the ICU at some point between their last interview and death.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Two-part models were used to estimate out-of-pocket costs for direct medical care and health-related services by type of care and insurance coverage. Decedents with only traditional Medicare fee-for-service coverage have the highest out-of-pocket spending in the last year of life, estimated at $12,668 (95% CI, $9,744-15,592), second to only the uninsured. Medicare Advantage and private insurance provide slightly more comprehensive coverage. Individuals who spend-down to Medicaid coverage have 4× the out-of-pocket spending as those continuously on Medicaid.
CONCLUSIONS: Across all categories of insurance coverage, out-of-pocket spending in the last 12 months of life is high and represents a significant portion of assets for many patients requiring intensive care and their families. Medicare fee-for-service alone does not insulate individuals from the financial burden of high-intensity care, due to lack of an out-of-pocket maximum and a relatively high co-payment for hospitalizations. Medicaid plays an important role in the social safety net, providing the most complete hospital coverage of all the insurance groups, as well as significantly financing long-term care.
As intensivists from three distinct regions of the world with different cultural backgrounds, we believe it relevant in this rapidly emerging period of healthcare to share thoughts among clinicians providing end-of-life care in the intensive care unit (ICU). Intimate encounters with patients near the end of their lives form a foundational aspect of our vocation as intensivists. This article is our vision of eight top-tier concepts that should be embraced to usher in the best end-of-life care for all patients. We realize that not everyone will agree with these points and anticipate that our “eight things” will stimulate healthy discussion and debate.
OBJECTIVE: To compare perceptions of various aspects of palliative care for doctors and nurses; and examine factors contributing to perceived quality palliative care in intensive care units (ICUs).
DESIGN: A cross-sectional survey study conducted from November to December 2013. Questionnaires used were Knowledge, Attitudinal and Experiential Survey on Advance Directives (ADs), Clarke's Quality of Palliative Care and Nurses' Participation in the end-of-life (EOL) decision-making process.
SETTING: Seven adult medical and surgical ICUs at a medical center in Northern Taiwan.
PARTICIPANTS: In total, 172 doctors and nurses who worked in adult ICU for more than 3 months.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Nurses' and doctors' perception of quality palliative care.
RESULTS: Nurses provided better care than doctors in symptom management, comfort care and spiritual care; their participation in EOL decision-making was the sole modifiable contributor to perceived quality palliative care in ICUs (ß = 0.24, P < 0.01). Both doctors and nurses had positive attitudes towards ADs (mean = 4.05/10; standard deviation [SD] = 1.38) while their knowledge of ADs was poor (mean = 29.72/40; SD = 3.00). More than half of nurses currently participated in EOL decision-making and over 80% of doctors and nurses agreed both parties should engage in EOL decision-making process. Majority of doctors (83.9%) reckoned nurses agreed with their EOL decisions while a significant percentage (40%) of nurses were uncertain about doctors’ decisions ( 2 = 12.07, P < 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: Nurses' participation in EOL decision-making and strengthening spiritual care are imperative to rendering quality palliative care in ICUs. Potential disagreements arose during EOL decision-making between doctors and nurses; and insufficient knowledge of ADs should be addressed.
An unexplored aspect of conflicts and conflict resolution in the ICU at EOL is the role of advocacy in both medicine and law.
GOAL: Qualitative study to explore perspectives of SDM/patient lawyers on issues of advocacy at EOL to better understand conflicts and resolution processes.
METHODS: Purposive sampling with criterion and snowball techniques were used to recruit 11 experienced lawyers for semi-structured interviews. Interviews explored respondents' beliefs, views, and experiences with conflicts; were audio-recorded, coded inductively and iteratively following interpretive analysis. Recurring themes were identified using NVivo Qualitative Software.
RESULTS: We interviewed 11 participants and achieved conceptual saturation. Participants identified insufficient advocacy and overaggressive advocacy as major contributors to the initiation of ICU conflicts and the inhibition of resolution processes before and after the legal system is engaged. These breakdowns in advocacy contribute to challenges when conflicts arise, leading to prolongation of conflict-resolution processes and to outcomes that sometimes reflect the goals of legal advocacy rather than patient-centred goals.
CONCLUSION: This study explores legal perspective of conflict at EOL and how these perspectives can be used to inform the development of better approaches to conflict resolution.
Background: Physicians play a substantial role in facilitating communication regarding life-supporting treatment decision-making including do-not-resuscitate (DNR) in the intensive care units (ICU). Physician-related factors including gender, personal preferences to life-supporting treatment, and specialty have been found to affect the timing and selection of life-supporting treatment decision-making. This study aimed to examine the influence of physician workload on signing a DNR order in the ICUs.
Methods: This is retrospective observational study. The medical records of patients, admitted to the surgical ICUs for the first time between June 1, 2011 and December 31, 2013, were reviewed. We used a multivariate Cox proportional hazards model to examine the influence of the physician’s workload on his/her writing a DNR order by adjusting for multiple factors. We then used Kaplan–Meier survival curves with log-rank test to compare the time from ICU admission to DNR orders written for patients for two groups of physicians based on the average number of patients each physician cared for per day during data collection period.
Results: The hazard of writing a DNR order by the attending physicians who cared for more than one patient per day significantly decreased by 41% as compared to the hazard of writing a DNR order by those caring for fewer than one patient (hazard ratio = 0.59, 95% CI 0.39—0.89, P = .01). In addition, the factors associated with writing a DNR order as determined by the Cox model were non-operative, cardiac failure/insufficiency diagnosis (hazard ratio = 1.71, 95% CI 1.00—2.91, P = .05) and the Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System score (hazard ratio = 1.02, 95% CI 1.00—1.03, P = .03). Physicians who cared for more than one patient per day were less likely to write a DNR order for their patients than those who cared for in average fewer than one patient per day (log-rank chi-square = 5.72, P = .02).
Conclusions: Our findings highlight the need to take multidisciplinary actions for physicians with heavy workloads. Changes in the work environmental factors along with stress management programs to improve physicians’ psychological well-being as well as the quality.
BACKGROUND: Earlier palliative care consultation is associated with less intensive medical care and improved quality outcomes for patients with cancer. However, there are limited data about how the timing of palliative care affects utilization among noncancer patients exposed to palliative care consultation.
OBJECTIVE: Comparison of health care utilization for hospice decedents who received early versus late palliative care.
DESIGN: A retrospective cohort study utilizing hospital and hospice administrative databases.
SETTING/SUBJECTS: Patients with cancer and noncancer diagnoses who received specialty palliative care consultation before dying at a local hospice.
MEASUREMENTS: Comparing early (>90 days before death) versus late (<90 days before death) palliative care, outcome measures included intensive care unit (ICU) utilization and hospice length of stay (LOS).
RESULTS: Of 233 hospice decedents in 2014 who had palliative care referrals, 36 (15.4%) had early and 197 (84.5%) had late referrals. Nearly half of the patients had a noncancer hospice diagnosis. Only 6% of the early group used the ICU in the last month of life, whereas 56% of the late group did. Patients receiving early palliative care had a longer median hospice LOS than those with late palliative care (138 days vs. 8 days).
CONCLUSIONS: Early palliative care appears to reduce intensive medical care and increase hospice LOS for patients with a variety of end-stage diseases.
Background: The impact of specialty pediatric palliative care (PPC) on intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay for children is unclear.
Objective: To estimate the impact of PPC consultation by analyzing ICU stay as a dynamic outcome over the course of hospitalization.
Patients and Methods: Retrospective cohort study of children hospitalized with diagnoses suggested as referral triggers for PPC at a large academic children's hospital. We assessed ICU stay according to PPC consultation and, using a patient-day analysis, applied multivariable mixed effects logistic regression to predict the odds of being in the ICU on a given day.
Results: The analytic sample included 777 admissions (11,954 hospital days), of which 100 admissions (13%) included PPC consultation. Principal patient demographics were age 8 ± 6 years, 55% male sex, 71% white race, and 52% commercial insurance. Cardiac diagnoses were most frequent (29%) followed by gastrointestinal (22%) and malignant (20%) conditions. Although total ICU stay was longer for admissions, including PPC consultation (compared to admissions where PPC was not consulted), the odds of being in the ICU on a given day were reduced by 79% after PPC consultation (odds ratio [OR] = 0.21; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.13–0.34; p < 0.001) for children with cancer and 85% (OR = 0.15; 95% CI: 0.08–0.26; p < 0.001) for children with nononcologic conditions.
Conclusions: Among children hospitalized with a diagnosis deemed eligible for specialty PPC, the likelihood of being in the ICU on a given day was strongly reduced after PPC consultation, supporting the value of PPC.
PROBLEM: Little is known about how parents perceive their role or the role of health care providers (HCPs) during end-of-life decision making (EOL DM) in the context of the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: The authors searched CINAHL, PubMed, Ovid Medline, Web of Science, Social Science Database, PsycINFO, and Google scholar for English language studies performed in the United States related to parental perception of parental or HCP roles in EOL DM in the PICU since 2008.
SAMPLE: Eleven studies of parents and health care providers (HCPs) of critically ill children in the PICU and/or receiving inpatient pediatric palliative care, and bereaved parents of PICU patients.
RESULTS: Most parents reported belief that EOL DM is within the domain of parental role, a minority felt it was a physician's responsibility. Parental EOL DM is rooted more firmly in emotion and perception and a desire to be a 'good parent' to a child at EOL in the way they see fit than HCP recommendations or 'medical facts'. Parents need HCPs to treat them as allies, communicate well, and be trustworthy.
CONCLUSIONS: Role conflict may exist between parents and HCPs who are prioritizing different attributes of the parental role. The role of the nurse in support of parental role in the PICU is not well-elucidated in the extant literature.
IMPLICATIONS: Future research should focus on what parents need from HCPs, especially nurses, to support their parental role, and factors that facilitate the development of trust and good communication.
The experiences of end-of-life care by nurses in the pediatric intensive care unit are the subject of this systematic review. Six qualitative articles from three different countries were chosen for the review using methods from Joanna Briggs Institute. The themes discovered included the following: insufficient communication, emotional burden, moral distress from medical futility, strengthening resilience, and taking steps toward hospice. These themes are discussed in detail followed by recommendations for practice to assist nurses in their quest for a good death for their pediatric patients.
BACKGROUND: Evidence regarding the impact of early palliative family conferences (PFCs) and decision to withdraw life-sustaining treatment (DTW) on healthcare costs in an intensive care unit (ICU) setting is inconsistent.
METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed patients who died in an ICU from 2013 to 2016. PFCs held within 7 days after ICU admission and DTWs were verified by reviewing medical records and claims data. Comparisons were first made between patients with and without DTWs, and secondly, between DTW patients with and without PFCs within 7 days. Propensity score matching methods were used to examine the difference in costs between patients with and without DTWs and PFCs within 7 days.
RESULTS: Of the 579 patients included, those with DTWs (n = 73) had a longer ICU stay than those without (n = 506) (12.9 ± 7.1 vs. 8.4 ± 9.6 days, p < 0.001). The DTW patients were more likely to have a "do-not-resuscitate" order (p < 0.001) and PFCs within 7 days (p < 0.001) and had lower healthcare costs (USD 7358 ± 4116 vs. 8669 ± 9,535, p = 0.038). After matching, healthcare cost reduction for patients with DTWs, compared with those without DTWs, was USD 3467 [95% CI, 915-6019] (p < 0.001). Compared with DTW patients without PFCs within 7 days, the costs for DTW patients with PFCs within 7 days further reduced to USD 3042 [95%CI, 1358-4725] (p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Palliative family conferences held within 7 days after ICU admission with decisions to withdraw life-sustaining treatments significantly lowered healthcare costs.
BACKGROUND: Pressure injury is a common clinical parameter of patient care outcome. Various risk factors increase the risk of palliative care patients to pressure injuries and difficult wound healing. Healthcare professionals are aware that wound healing is difficult, but they still focus on this process instead of providing the needs of patients with unhealed wounds.
METHODS: This study aims to identify the clinical parameters of pressure injuries in relation to patients with advanced illness. A retrospective analysis of the records of patients with pressure injuries admitted over 18 months was performed. Descriptive analysis and Spearman's correlation coefficient were used.
RESULTS: A total of 127 clinical records were reviewed. The study revealed that patients of old age, high creatinine level, advanced wound age, reduced palliative performance scale (PPS) and low Norton scores are prone to suffer from unhealed wounds.
CONCLUSIONS: Pressure injuries are prone to non-healing in patients with old age, high creatinine level, advanced wound stage, low PPS and low Norton scores. Further studies involving patients in earlier stage can be considered.
OBJECTIVE: To implement a best-practice intervention offering deceased organ donation, testing whether it increased family consent rates.
DESIGN: A multicentre before-and-after study of a prospective cohort compared with pre-intervention controls.
SETTING: Nine Australian intensive care units.
PARTICIPANTS: Families and health care professionals caring for donor-eligible patients without registered donation preferences or aged = 16 years.
INTERVENTION: A multicomponent intervention including offers of deceased organ donation from specially trained designated requesters using a structured conversation separate to end-of-life discussions.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Proportion of families consenting to organ donation.
RESULTS: Consent was obtained in 87/164 cases (53%) during the intervention period compared with 14/25 cases (56%) pre-intervention (P = 0.83). The odds ratio (OR) of obtaining consent during the intervention period relative to preintervention was 1.13 (95% CI, 0.48-2.63; P = 0.78). During the intervention period, designated requesters obtained consent in 55/98 cases (56%), compared with 32/66 cases (48%) in which the medical team managing patient care raised donation (P = 0.34). Factors independently associated with increased consent were: family-raised organ donation (OR, 4.34; 95% CI, 1.79-10.52; P = 0.001), presence of an independent designated requester (OR, 3.84; 95% CI, 1.35- 10.98; P = 0.012), and multiple donation conversations per case (OR, 3.35; 95% CI, 1.93-5.81; P < 0.001). Consent decreased when patients were of non-Christian religion (OR, 0.18; 95% CI, 0.04-0.91; P = 0.038) and end-of-life and donation meetings were separate (OR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.16-0.89; P = 0.026).
CONCLUSION: Implementation of a multicomponent intervention did not increase consent rates for organ donation, although some components of the intervention exerted significant effect.
OBJECTIVE: Shared decision making is essential for patients and their families when facing serious and life-threatening diseases. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of patient-centred and family-centred care meetings (PFCCM) on intensive measures and resource utilisation during end-of-life (EOL) hospitalisation among terminally ill patients.
DESIGN AND SETTING: A retrospective cross-sectional study using electronic medical records was conducted in a tertiary referral medical centre in Taiwan.
PARTICIPANTS: We identified 6843 deceased patients with terminal illness who either received or did not receive PFCCM during EOL hospitalisation between January 2013 and December 2015.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Patients who were transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU). Those who underwent invasive or non-invasive mechanical ventilation, tracheostomy, haemodialysis and surgical intervention during the final hospitalisation were determined by the use of intensive care measures; secondary measures were individual total and daily medical expenditures. A generalised estimating equation (GEE) model was used to compare the differences between the two groups. OR and beta coefficients (ß) with 95% CI were estimated.
RESULTS: This study identified 459 patients (6.7%) who received PFCCM during EOL hospitalisation. Multivariate analyses showed that patients who received PFCCM were less likely to have ICU admissions (OR 0.44, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.57), undergo surgical interventions (OR 0.74, 95% CI 0.58 to 0.95) and invasive mechanical ventilation (OR 0.50, 95% CI 0.38 to 0.66) during the final hospitalisation, after adjusting for patient demographics, clinical conditions and year of admission. Additionally, a significant decrease in daily medical expenditures was observed in PFCCM patients (ß -0.18, 95% CI -0.25 to -0.12) than in non-PFCCM patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Patient-physician discussion through PFCCM is associated with less intensive care utilisation and daily medical expenditure during EOL hospitalisation in terminally ill patients.
CONTEXT: At the end of life, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer (LC) patients exhibit similar symptoms; however, a large-scale study comparing end-of-life health care utilization between these two groups has not been conducted in East Asia.
OBJECTIVES: To explore and compare end-of-life resource use during the last 6 months before death between COPD and LC patients.
METHODS: Using data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database, we conducted a nationwide retrospective cohort study in COPD (n = 8,640) and LC (n = 3,377) patients who died between 1997 and 2013.
RESULTS: The COPD decedents were more likely to be admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) (57.59% vs 29.82%), to have longer ICU stays (17.59 vs 9.93 days), and to undergo intensive procedures than the LC decedents during their last 6 months; they were less likely to receive inpatient (3.32% vs 18.24%) or home-based palliative care (0.84% vs 8.17%) and supportive procedures than the LC decedents during their last 6 months. The average total medical cost during the last 6 months was approximately 18.42% higher for the COPD decedents than for the LC decedents.
CONCLUSION: Higher intensive health care resource use, including intensive procedure use, at the end of life suggests a focus on prolonging life in COPD patients; it also indicates an unmet demand for palliative care in these patients. Avoiding potentially inappropriate care and improving end-of-life care quality by providing palliative care to COPD patients are necessary.
BACKGROUND: Critically ill patients may die despite invasive intervention. In this study, we examine trends in the application of two such treatments over a decade, namely, endotracheal ventilation and vasopressors and inotropes administration, as well as the impact of these trends on survival durations in patients who die within a month of ICU admission.
METHODS: We considered observational data available from the MIMIC-III open-access ICU database and collected within a study period between year 2002 up to 2011. If a patient had multiple admissions to the ICU during the 30 days before death, only the first stay was analyzed, leading to a final set of 6,436 unique ICU admissions during the study period. We tested two hypotheses: (i) administration of invasive intervention during the ICU stay immediately preceding end-of-life would decrease over the study time period and (ii) time-to-death from ICU admission would also decrease, due to the decrease in invasive intervention administration. To investigate the latter hypothesis, we performed a subgroups analysis by considering patients with lowest and highest severity. To do so, we stratified the patients based on their SAPS I scores, and we considered patients within the first and the third tertiles of the score. We then assessed differences in trends within these groups between years 2002-05 vs. 2008-11.
RESULTS: Comparing the period 2002-2005 vs. 2008-2011, we found a reduction in endotracheal ventilation among patients who died within 30 days of ICU admission (120.8 vs. 68.5 hours for the lowest severity patients, p<0.001; 47.7 vs. 46.0 hours for the highest severity patients, p = 0.004). This is explained in part by an increase in the use of non-invasive ventilation. Comparing the period 2002-2005 vs. 2008-2011, we found a reduction in the use of vasopressors and inotropes among patients with the lowest severity who died within 30 days of ICU admission (41.8 vs. 36.2 hours, p<0.001) but not among those with the highest severity. Despite a reduction in the use of invasive interventions, we did not find a reduction in the time to death between 2002-2005 vs. 2008-2011 (7.8 days vs. 8.2 days for the lowest severity patients, p = 0.32; 2.1 days vs. 2.0 days for the highest severity patients, p = 0.74).
CONCLUSION: We found that the reduction in the use of invasive treatments over time in patients with very poor prognosis did not shorten the time-to-death. These findings may be useful for goals of care discussions.