BACKGROUND: The anaesthetic propofol is often mentioned as a drug that can be used in palliative sedation. The existing literature of how to use propofol in palliative sedation is scarce, with lack of information about how propofol could be initiated for palliative sedation, doses and treatment outcomes.
AIM: To describe the patient population, previous and concomitant medication and clinical outcome when propofol was used for palliative sedation.
METHODS: A retrospective study with quantitative and qualitative data. All patients who during a four-and-a-half-year period received propofol for palliative sedation at the Department of palliative medicine, Akershus University Hospital, Norway were included.
RESULTS: Fourteen patients were included. In six patients the main indication for palliative sedation was pain, in seven dyspnoea and in one delirium. In eight of these cases propofol was chosen because of the pharmacokinetic properties (rapid effect), and in the remaining cases because midazolam in spite of dose titration failed to provide sufficient symptom relief. In all patients sedation and adequate symptom control was achieved during manual dose titration. During the maintenance phase three of fourteen patients had spontaneous awakenings. At death propofol doses ranged from 60 to 340 mg/hour.
CONCLUSIONS: Severe suffering at the end of life can be successfully treated with propofol for palliative sedation. This can be performed in palliative medicine wards, but skilled observation and dose titration throughout the period of palliative sedation is necessary. Successful initial sedation does not guarantee uninterrupted sedation until death.
Conflict is an important consideration in the intensive care unit (ICU). In this setting, conflict most commonly occurs over the 'best interests' of the incapacitated adult patient; for instance, when families seek aggressive life-sustaining treatments, which are thought by the medical team to be potentially inappropriate. Indeed, indecision on futility of treatment and the initiation of end-of-life discussions are recognised to be among the greatest challenges of working in the ICU, leading to emotional and psychological 'burnout' in ICU teams. When these disagreements occur, they may be within the clinical team or among those close to the patient, or between the clinical team and those close to the patient. It is, therefore, crucial to have a theoretical understanding of decision-making itself, as unpicking misalignments in the family's and clinical team's decision-making processes may offer strategies to resolve conflict. Here, we relate Kahneman and Tversky's work on cognitive biases and behavioural economics to the ICU environment, arguing that these biases could partly explain disparities in the decision-making processes for the two conflicting parties. We suggest that through the establishment of common ground, challenging of cognitive biases and formulation of mutually agreeable solutions, mediation may offer a pragmatic and cost-effective solution to conflict resolution. The litigation process is intrinsically adversarial and strains the doctor-patient-relative relationship. Thus an alternative external party should be considered, however mediation is not frequently used and more research is needed into its effectiveness in resolving conflicts in the ICU.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Meaning in life (MIL) represent a key topic in palliative care. The aims of this study were to explore (1) the differences in perceived MIL and in the meaning-relevant life areas between a representative sample of the Swiss population and palliative care patients, and (2) to what extent MIL can be considered as a significant predictor of quality of life (QOL).
METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted separately for the patients (face-to-face interviews) and the general population (telephone survey). MIL was measured with the Schedule for Meaning in Life Evaluation (SMILE) and QOL with a single-item visual analogue scale (0-10). Sociodemographic variables were controlled for in the analyses.
RESULTS: 206 patients and 1015 participants from the Swiss population completed the protocol. Results indicated high MIL scores in both populations even if the difference was significant (patients 81.9 vs general population 87, p<0.001). Patients were more likely to cite 'family' (OR=1.78), 'social relations' (OR=1.9), 'spirituality and religion' (OR=3.93), 'social commitment' (OR=1.94) and 'growth' (OR=2.07), and less likely to cite 'finances' (OR=0.15) and 'health' (OR=0.21) as MIL-relevant areas. The SMILE scores and MIL areas explained 21.8% of the QOL variance for the patients and 15.1% for the representative sample.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data emphasise the importance of MIL as a contributor to QOL in both populations. It highlights the importance of the life areas contributing to MIL, especially social interactions for both populations, and spirituality and areas related to growth in palliative care patients.
BACKGROUND: Approximately 460 000 people die annually in England. Three-quarters of these deaths are expected. Health Education England is prioritising upskilling of clinical staff in response to reports of poor care quality in the last days of life in acute hospitals, where almost half of all deaths occur. This study explores the impact of an end-of-life care (EoLC) educational intervention, Milestones, in acute hospital trusts in Greater London.
METHODS: This is a mixed methods study. Learners completed a questionnaire pre- (n=452), immediately post- (n=488) and 3 to 8 months post- (n=37) intervention. The questionnaire measured learner confidence in EoLC covering the National Health Service adopted 'Priorities for the Care of the Dying Person'. Paired t-tests were used to determine statistically significant difference in learner confidence pre- and post-intervention. A convenience sample of learners (n=7) and educators (n=5) were recruited to qualitative semi-structured interviews that sought to understand if, how and why Milestones worked. Data were analysed using a thematic approach.
RESULTS: A statistically significant increase in learner confidence across all five priorities of care' was sustained up to 8 months (p<0.001). Interviewees wanted to discuss wider challenges in EoLC related to the organisations and cultural contexts in which they worked. Concerns included balancing hope when decision-making, learning as a multidisciplinary team and emotional impact.
CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that Milestones is a flexible, beneficial resource for teaching EoLC that facilitates enhanced learner engagement. Understanding generated about wider concerns can inform future educational material development, organisational process and research study design.
PURPOSE: This study aimed to investigate the supportive care needs of family caregivers (FCs) of advanced cancer patients and their support service use at the beginning of specialist inpatient palliative care (SIPC), near the patient's death, and during bereavement.
METHODS: FCs reported their needs using the Family Inventory of Needs (FIN), along with their utilization of psychosocial and bereavement support services at the beginning (N = 232) and 6-9 months after SIPC (N = 160).
RESULTS: At the beginning of SIPC, mean of 16.9 of 20 needs were reported to be highly important, and 12.2 were reported to be met. At the time of the patient's death, 16.8 needs were highly important, and 13.8 were met. At both time points, the highest ranked need was related to information about changes in the patient's condition (100% vs. 99%), and the most frequently unmet need was related to feeling hope (73% vs. 71%). Multivariate linear regression analysis revealed a low education level to be consistently related to a greater number of highly important needs. Higher satisfaction with care and better social support was related to a greater number of met needs. Twenty-five percent of FCs had accessed at least one psychosocial support service prior to SIPC, and 30% had done so during bereavement. Among non-users of support services, > 75% indicated sufficient informal support as a barrier to service use.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings offer a useful guide for adequately addressing FCs' needs in an effort to optimize FC support. However, only a subgroup of the FCs used support services. Better information and provision of tailored services might improve FCs' situations in the future.
OBJECTIVE: The concept of a good death is a motivating factor for end of life care policy; this article examines what English end-of-life care (EOLC) policy defines as a good death.
METHODS: Critical discourse analysis of policy documents and policy-promoting materials published between 2008 and 2016.
RESULTS: Policy explicitly defines a good death as having the following attributes: being treated as an individual, with dignity and respect; being without pain and other symptoms; being in familiar surroundings and being in the company of close family and/or friends. Critical discourse analysis of 54 documents found that rather than just being an outcome or event, descriptions of what makes a death good also include many processes. A more extended definition includes: the person receives holistic EOLC; the dying person is treated with dignity and respect; the death is not sudden and unexpected; people are prepared and have ideally done some advance care planning; people are aware that someone is dying and openly discuss this; on knowing the dying person's preferences, all involved are to work towards achieving these; the place of death is important; the person's family are involved and the needs of the bereaved are considered.
CONCLUSION: This analysis indicates the complex nature of the current discourses around good death in EOLC policy, which often focuses on care rather than death. Policy should focus on outlining what quality end-of-life care looks like, rather than assume 'good death' is a suitable outcome statement.
A lay patient navigator model involving a culturally tailored intervention to improve palliative care outcomes for Hispanics with advanced cancer was tested across 3 urban and 5 rural cancer centers in Colorado. Five home visits were delivered over 3 months to 112 patients assigned to the randomized controlled trial's intervention arm. Grounded in core Hispanic values, visits addressed palliative care domains (advance care planning, pain/symptom management, and hospice utilization). To describe the content of patient navigator visits with patients/family caregivers, research team members analyzed 4 patient navigators' field notes comprising 499 visits to 112 patients. Based on previous work, codes were established a priori to identify ways patient navigators help patients/family caregivers. Key words and comments from field notes were classified into themes using ATLAS.ti and additional codes established. Nine common themes and exemplars describing the lay patient navigator role are described: activation/empowerment, advocacy, awareness, access, building rapport, providing support, exploring barriers, symptom screening, and the patient experience. Patient navigators used advocacy, activation, education, and motivational interviewing to address patient/family concerns and reduce barriers to quality palliative care in urban and rural settings. Adapting and implementing this model across cultures has potential to improve palliative care access to underserved populations.
Very little is known about the characteristics of the Medicare beneficiaries receiving hospice at home, defined using the Medicare Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System codes, as a traditional home, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home. A secondary analysis of 2015 Medicare data using regression to describe the characteristics of decedents (n = 675 782) in hospice residing in a traditional home, an assisted living facility, and a nursing home was completed. Results suggest that the proportion of Medicare decedents in hospice with more than 180 lifetime days in hospice was highest among those who resided in an assisted living facility (25.03%) compared with those who resided in a nursing home (18.87%) or in a traditional home (13.04%). Regression findings suggest that, compared with decedents in hospice without dementia who resided in a traditional home, decedents in hospice with a primary diagnosis of dementia were more likely to reside in an assisted living facility (adjusted odds ratio, 2.29; P < .0001) when controlling for other factors. In summary, decedents in hospice who resided in a traditional home have different characteristics than decedents who resided in an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Interdisciplinary providers should consider these differences when managing hospice interventions.
Health care provider communication proficiency is critical in the initiation and revisitation of these discussions throughout the trajectory of chronic illness. The delivery of palliative care (PC) throughout the continuum of illness has traditionally been underutilized. Nurses have the ability to significantly improve PC utilization through the use of advance care planning strategies to confidently initiate conversations with patients and families at multiple points throughout the continuum of illness. Nurses are uniquely positioned to contribute to the improvement of care provided to terminally and chronically ill patients because of the relationship developed and the knowledge of patient-specific disease progression that unfolds during the time spent with patients. In this study, nurses improved communication efficacy by learning to utilize advance care planning–specific interview strategies inclusive of scripting and cued language when initiating PC conversations. The preintervention/postintervention confidence levels of nurses in initiating early PC conversations significantly increased to improve the delivery of PC to patients.
BACKGROUND: Nationally, only one-third of children survive to hospital discharge after initial presentation with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). Of those children who survive, less than 25% leave the hospital at their functional baseline. Given these poor outcomes, such patients could benefit from palliative care involvement.
AIMS: To characterize the existing use and identify barriers to seeking palliative care consults in children admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) with OHCA.
DESIGN: Mixed-methods quasi-experimental study.
PARTICIPANTS: Physicians (MD/DO), nurse practitioners, and registered nurses who provide care in the PICU.
RESULTS: Overall, nurses felt palliative care was consulted "not nearly enough" (43%), while the majority of physicians (53.9%) perceived palliative care services are requested either "just the right amount" (30.8%) or "too often" (23.1%). The top 3 desired palliative services were (1) patient and family psychosocial support, (2) assistance with determining goals of care, and (3) counseling and education. Barriers to consults were forgetting/not thinking about consulting, and family refusal of palliative care consult. No statistical differences among participant groups were found for likelihood to consult palliative care, unless the patient faced imminent death.
CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric Intensive Care Unit providers desire assistance from palliative care teams for help with identifying goals of care, providing psychosocial support, as well as education to the patients and their families. Unfortunately, there remains a large discrepancy between physicians and nurses when it comes to how often palliative care is, and should, be consulted.
Palliative care was initially developed for patients with advanced cancer. The concept has evolved and now encompasses any life-threatening chronic disease. Studies carried out to compare end-of-life symptoms have shown that although symptoms such as pain and dyspnea are as prevalent in patients with lung disease as in patients with cancer, the former receive less palliative treatment than do the latter. There is a need to refute the idea that palliative care should be adopted only when curative treatment is no longer possible. Palliative care should be provided in conjunction with curative treatment at the time of diagnosis, by means of a joint decision-making process; that is, the patient and the physician should work together to plan the therapy, seeking to improve quality of life while reducing physical, psychological, and spiritual suffering.
BACKGROUND: With the highest number of cases in the world as of April 13, 2020, New York City (NYC) became the epicenter of the global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The data regarding palliative team involvement in patients with COVID-19, however, remains scarce. We aimed to investigate outcomes of palliative team involvement for the patients with COVID-19 in NYC.
METHODS: Consecutive 225 patients with confirmed COVID-19 requiring hospitalization in our urban academic medical center in NYC were analyzed. Patients were divided into 2 groups, those with a palliative care consult (palliative group: 14.2% [n = 32]) versus those with no palliative care consult (no palliative group: 85.8% [n = 193]).
RESULTS: The palliative group was older and had more comorbidities. During the hospital course, the palliative group had more intensive care unit stays, rapid response team activations, and more use of vasopressors (P < .05). Patients with palliative care had higher rates of invasive mechanical ventilation than those without (46.9% vs 10.4%, P < .001). Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed in 12 patients (6.5% vs 5.2%, P = .77) and death rate was 100% in both subsets. Notably, initial code status was not different between the 2 groups, however, code status at discharge was significantly different between them (P < .001). The rate of full code decreased by 70% in the palliative group and by 47.5% in the no palliative care group from admission to the time of death.
CONCLUSIONS: Critically ill patients hospitalized for COVID-19 benefit from palliative team consults by helping to clarify advanced directives and minimize futile resuscitative efforts.
OBJECTIVES: to describe the experience of conducting workshops for teaching the subcutaneous fluid infusion therapy in palliative care patients.
METHODS: experience report based on four workshops with a workload of nine hours each, addressing the teaching, implementation of the technique, and management in the use of subcutaneous fluid infusion therapy in patients in palliative care. The host institution was a private hospital, which had two care units in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
RESULTS: we identified little knowledge about the theme. Due to the dynamics used, the workshops made it possible to qualify the participants to perform and manage the subcutaneous route in palliative care environments.
CONCLUSIONS: the workshops were an important means of training, qualification, and dissemination of nursing care in a palliative care environment. The resources used to enable the qualification in the execution and management of the presented technique.
OBJECTIVE: Hospice family caregivers are seeking additional information related to patient care, pain and symptom management, and self-care. This study interviewed hospice staff about the potential dissemination of bilingual telenovelas to address these caregiver needs.
METHODS: Qualitative structured phone interviews were conducted with 22 hospice professionals from 17 different hospice organizations in 3 different Midwest states. The interviews were conducted from October to December 2019. Hospice staff volunteers were recruited from conferences, then individual interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and thematic analysis was conducted to gain an in-depth understanding of how to best implement telenovela video education into hospice care.
RESULTS: Most participants were hospice nurses (36%) located primarily in Missouri (91%), with a mean of 9 years of experience. Three discrete themes emerged, the educational resources currently provided to patient/families, perceptions of the usefulness of telenovelas for education, and practical suggestions regarding the dissemination of telenovelas. The development of 4 telenovela videos covering different topics is described.
CONCLUSION: Hospice staff responded favorably to the concept of telenovelas and identified important keys for dissemination.
Background: Chaplain-led communication-board-guided spiritual care may reduce anxiety and stress during an intensive care unit (ICU) admission for nonvocal mechanically ventilated patients, but clinical pastoral education does not teach the assistive communication skills needed to provide communication-board-guided spiritual care.
Objective: To evaluate a four-hour chaplain-led seminar to educate chaplains about ICU patients' psychoemotional distress, and train them in assistive communication skills for providing chaplain-led communication-board-guided spiritual care.
Design: A survey immediately before and after the seminar, and one-year follow-up about use of communication-board-guided spiritual care.
Subjects/Setting: Sixty-two chaplains from four U.S. medical centers.
Measurements: Multiple-choice and 10-point integer scale questions about ICU patients' mental health and communication-board-guided spiritual care best practices.
Results: Chaplain awareness of ICU sedation practices, signs of delirium, and depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder in ICU survivors increased significantly (all p < 0.001). Knowledge about using tagged yes/no questions to communicate with nonvocal patients increased from 38% to 87%, p < 0.001. Self-reported skill and comfort in providing communication-board-guided spiritual care increased from a median (interquartile range) score of 4 (2-6) to 7 (5-8) and 6 (4-8) to 8 (6-9), respectively (both p < 0.001). One year later, 31% of chaplains reported providing communication-board-guided spiritual care in the ICU.
Conclusions: A single chaplain-led seminar taught chaplains about ICU patients' psychoemotional distress, trained chaplains in assistive communication skills with nonvocal patients, and led to the use of communication-board-guided spiritual care in the ICU for up to one year later.
Despite efforts to improve access to palliative care services, a significant number of patients still have unmet needs throughout their continuum of care. As such, this project was conducted to increase recognition of patients who could benefit from palliative care, increase referrals, and connect regional sites. This study utilized Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles through a quality improvement approach to develop and test the Palliative Care Screening Tool and aimed to screen 100% of patients within 24 hours who were admitted to selected units by February 2017. The intervention was implemented in 3 different units, each within community hospitals. Patients 18 years or older were screened if they were admitted to one of the selected units for the project, regardless of their diagnosis, age, or comorbidities. The percentage of newly admitted patients who were screened and the total number of palliative care consults were assessed as outcome measures. The tool was met with varying compliance among the 3 sites. However, there was an overall increase in consults across all hospital sites, and an increase in the proportion of noncancer patients was demonstrated. Although the aim was not reached, the tool helped to create a shift in the demographic of patients identified as palliative.
The purpose of this pilot was to identify the effects of a 4-credit interdisciplinary undergraduate course focused on communication strategies to enhance spiritual care at the end of life. The course provided students with opportunities to enhance their ability to communicate empathically with individuals facing the end of life. Evidence-based content focused on ways to live each day with hope and gratitude, strengthen relationships, create a legacy, and find meaning and purpose in life and death. Narayanasamy's (1999) Actioning Spirituality and Spiritual Care Education and Training in Nursing model guided project development. The study used a prospective, pretest/posttest design. Participants included undergraduate students (n = 34) from nursing, premedicine, athletic training, business, economics, and religious studies at a Midwest liberal arts college. Statistically significant differences were found in students' attitudes toward and knowledge of spirituality/spiritual care (P < .0001, Cohen's d = 0.59), spiritual care competence (P < .0001, Cohen's d = 0.79), and level of response empathy through role play (P < .0001, Cohen's d = 0.92). Many students referred to this course as “life changing” and “healing.” As our students go out into the community, they may intimately touch the lives and hearts of future patients, family, and friends who face the end of life with their compassionate words.
The health care decisions of families of children who have life-limiting genetic diseases are impacted by multiple factors including religious and ethical values, education and knowledge, emotional trauma, availability of support, and accessibility of care. Palliative care nurses must practice the highest standards by delivering nonbiased, nonjudgmental support to patients and families; however, nurses may experience moral distress if their personal values conflict with a family's decisions and needs. This case focuses on a family receiving community-based palliative care for a child with a genetic life-limiting disease. They had a family history of this disease, which had caused the deaths of previous children, and the mother had a current unplanned pregnancy. The care team overcame language barriers and cultural obstacles to establish a trusting relationship with the vulnerable pregnant mother. They were able to support her decision to terminate her pregnancy safely by helping her to navigate a complex health care system. Using 5 crucial pillars to assist health care members with the delivery of nonjudgmental family-centered palliative care is recommended: (1) identification of biases, (2) utilization of a culturally safe approach, (3) effective communication, (4) assessment and support, and (5) knowledge of community resources.
Nearly all reports of interprofessional education (IPE) in palliative care have excluded pharmacy students. This article describes an IPE event between pharmacy and nursing students and assesses its impact on IPE competencies. Second-year nursing students and third-year pharmacy students participated in an evening-long event, focused on a married couple who each require palliative care—one for end-of-life planning and one for chronic disease progression. The impact of the event was assessed using the Interprofessional Collaborative Competency Attainment Scale (ICCAS) and qualitative feedback. Two hundred nine (96.7%) completed the ICCAS, and 16 of the 20 statements of the ICCAS showed large positive effect sizes (Cohen d >= 0.8), with the remaining 4 showing moderate positive effect sizes (Cohen d >= 0.5). The greatest effect sizes were related to improved awareness of complementary skillsets and knowledge between the professions. Addressing team conflict and including the patient/family in decision-making showed the least improvement. While ongoing interactions are ideal for the development of skills related to conflict and team development, this article demonstrates that even a 1-time activity can have an impact on students' interprofessional care competence.
BACKGROUND: General Practitioners (GPs) face challenges when providing palliative care, including an ageing, multimorbid population, and falling GP numbers. A 'public health palliative care' approach, defined as "working with communities to improve people's experience of death, dying and bereavement", is gaining momentum. 'Compassionate communities' is one example, with a focus on linking professional health carers with supportive community networks. Primary care is central to the approach, which has been incorporated into United Kingdom GP palliative care guidance. No research to date, however, has investigated GP perspectives of these approaches. Our aim, therefore, was to explore GP perceptions of a public health approach to palliative care, and compassionate communities.
METHODS: GPs working in the United Kingdom were recruited through university teaching and research networks using snowball sampling. Purposive sampling ensured wide representation of gender, level of experience and practice populations. Semi-structured, digitally audio-recorded interviews were conducted with nine GPs. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and thematic analysis was undertaken, informed by a qualitative descriptive methodology. Interviews continued until data saturation was reached.
RESULTS: Most participants were unfamiliar with the term 'compassionate communities', but recognised examples within their practice. Three major themes with seven subthemes were identified: 1) Perceived potential of compassionate communities, including: 'maximising use of existing community services'; 'influencing health outside of healthcare'; and 'combatting taboo', 2) Perceived challenges of compassionate communities, including: 'patient safety'; 'limited capacity of the community'; 'limited capacity of general practice', and 'applicability of public health to palliative care', and 3) The role of the GP in compassionate communities.
CONCLUSIONS: GPs recognised the importance of the wider community in caring for palliative care patients, however most were unfamiliar with the compassionate community approach. Participants held differing views regarding the application of the model, and the position of general practice within this. Further research into the approach's practical implementation, and exploring the views of other key stakeholders, would help establish the feasibility of compassionate communities in practice, and guide its future application.