Presence and treatment of air hunger in severely ill patients.
ABSTRACT Air hunger at end-of-life poses challenges to providers who attempt to comfort while not diminishing mental capacities. We examined the presence, methods of assessment, and treatment of air hunger. This observational study prospectively screened 198 consecutive medicine admissions for increased risk of near-term death. These patients in turn were screened for dyspnea. Patients screening positive were assessed on admission and the next day with the Visual Analog Scale (VAS), modified Borg Scale, and the American Thoracic Society (ATS) Shortness of Breath Scale. Additionally, resident physician opinions of patient dyspnea level were assessed using the same tools. Treatments focused on alleviating air hunger were recorded. Thirty-nine percent of patients were at risk for near-term death and of these, 53% (95% CI: 41-65%) reported air hunger. All dyspnea scales improved to a statistically and clinically significant degree (Borg p=0.007, VAS p<0.0005, ATS p=0.008). There was statistically significant agreement between Borg-VAS and between Borg-ATS with a trend toward significance with ATS-VAS. Physician assessment of dyspnea showed poor agreement with patients. A median of three treatments were received by patients but dyspnea improvement did not correlate with the type, number, or specific combination of therapies. Dyspnea is common near end-of-life. Borg or VAS scales appear useful in assessing terminal dyspnea and can be employed in assessing terminal air hunger. No individual treatment or combination of treatments significantly improved patients' dyspnea. However, air hunger significantly improved with hospitalization.
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ABSTRACT: Several pain scales are available for newborns, but the assessment of pain in these preverbal beings, who are in continuing neurological development, remains challenging for healthcare teams. Although neonates at the end of life are particularly vulnerable to pain and discomfort, no assessment tool has been validated in this specific population. The difficulties for assessing pain in this context are copies of those potentially encountered in other situations. Questions arise about the limits of the available scales, about possible alterations of responses to a noxious stimulus in particular contexts (extreme immaturity, brain lesions), about possibly painful situations in palliative care, about the nature of scales to choose. Data show a perception of pain at a cortical level by extremely immature infants and the ability for neonates with significant neurological injury to express pain behaviours. For some potentially painful situations (dyspnoea, gasps, hunger) neonatal data are virtually nonexistent. Fundamental scientific data and clinical data from adults and children can give some answers. One will choose scales for which the staff is trained, easily usable (preference for behavioural scales), validated for all gestational ages, reliable in the event of neurological impairment or sedation. An assessment of prolonged pain (EDIN scale or COMFORT Behaviour scale) combined with measures of acute pain (DAN or NFCS scales) is recommended. These scales should be better validated for populations of newborns and situations that are specific to palliative care. A better assessment of the parental perception and of their distress about the discomfort or pain of their child is warranted.Archives De Pediatrie - ARCHIVES PEDIATRIE. 01/2010; 17.
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ABSTRACT: Dyspnea is the most common symptom in patients with malignant pleural effusion (MPE). Treatment decisions are primarily based on the perception of dyspnea severity. To study dyspnea perception following therapeutic thoracentesis using the visual analog scale (VAS) dyspnea score and modified Borg scale (MBS). To investigate whether patient reported outcome (PRO) measures can predict pleural re-interventions. Consecutive patients presenting with symptomatic MPE and planned for therapeutic thoracentesis were asked to complete MBS and VAS dyspnea scores (both at rest and during exercise) daily for 14 consecutive days. Physicians, unaware of the results of these PRO measures, decided on the necessity of a re-intervention, according to routine care. PRO measures were analyzed and correlated with performed re-interventions and the volume of removed fluid. Forty-nine out of 64 consecutive patients returned the diaries. Twenty-eight patients (57 %) had a re-intervention within 30 days. Patients who required a re-intervention reported significantly higher MBS than patients who did not. The extent of increase in MBS during exercise was related to the need for re-intervention. Regarding the MBS during exercise, median time to maximal relief was 2 days. Re-intervention was required sooner when larger volumes were drained. Patient reported outcomes are useful tools to assess treatment effect of therapeutic thoracentesis. Median time to maximal relief is 2 days. MBS rather than VAS dyspnea score appears to be more prognostic for repeat pleural drainage within 30 days.Supportive Care in Cancer 07/2013; · 2.09 Impact Factor