Current practice of hospital-based palliative care teams: Advance care planning in advanced stages of disease: A retrospective observational study

Iris van Doorne, Dick L. Willems, Nadine Baks, Jelle de Kuijper, Bianca M. Buurman, Marjon van Rijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background
Specialist palliative care teams are consulted during hospital admission for advice on complex palliative care. These consultations need to be timely to prevent symptom burden and maintain quality of life. Insight into specialist palliative care teams may help improve the outcomes of palliative care.

Methods
In this retrospective observational study, we analyzed qualitative and quantitative data of palliative care consultations in a six-month period (2017 or 2018) in four general hospitals in the northwestern part of the Netherlands. Data were obtained from electronic medical records.

Results
We extracted data from 336 consultations. The most common diagnoses were cancer (54.8%) and organ failure (26.8%). The estimated life expectancy was less than three months for 52.3% of all patients. Within two weeks after consultation, 53.2% of the patients died, and the median time until death was 11 days (range 191) after consultation. Most patients died in hospital (49.4%) but only 7.5% preferred to die in hospital. Consultations were mostly requested for advance care planning (31.6%). End-of-life preferences focused on last wishes and maintaining quality of life.

Conclusion
This study provides detailed insight into consultations of palliative care teams and shows that even though most palliative care consultations were requested for advance care planning, consultations focus on end-of-life care and are more crisis-oriented than prevention-oriented. Death often occurs too quickly after consultation for end-of-life preferences to be met and these preferences tend to focus on dying. Educating healthcare professionals on when to initiate advance care planning would promote a more prevention-oriented approach. Defining factors that indicate the need for timely palliative care team consultation and advance care planning could help timely identification and consultation.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0288514
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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