[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: For patients with advanced cancer, visits to the emergency department (ED) are common. Such patients present to the ED with a specific profile of palliative care needs, including burdensome symptoms such as pain, dyspnea, or vomiting that cannot be controlled in other settings and a lack of well-defined goals of care. The goals of this study are: i) to test the feasibility of recruiting, enrolling, and randomizing patients with serious illness in the ED; and ii) to evaluate the impact of ED-initiated palliative care on health care utilization, quality of life, and survival.Methods/design: This is a protocol for a single center parallel, two-arm randomized controlled trial in ED patients with metastatic solid tumors comparing ED-initiated palliative care referral to a control group receiving usual care. We plan to enroll 125 to 150 ED-advanced cancer patients at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, USA, who meet the following criteria: i) pass a brief cognitive screen; ii) speak fluent English or Spanish; and iii) have never been seen by palliative care. We will use balanced block randomization in groups of 50 to assign patients to the intervention or control group after completion of a baseline questionnaire. All research staff performing assessment or analysis will be blinded to patient assignment. We will measure the impact of the palliative care intervention on the following outcomes: i) timing and rate of palliative care consultation; ii) quality of life and depression at 12 weeks, measured using the FACT-G and PHQ-9; iii) health care utilization; and iv) length of survival. The primary analysis will be based on intention-to-treat.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patients with advanced cancer often visit the emergency department (ED). Little is known about their willingness or ability to engage in palliative care research, although enrollment in clinical trials of other seriously ill ED patientsthose with stroke, for examplehas been shown to be feasible.
The Journal of community and supportive oncology. 05/2014; 12(5):158-62.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Research has shown that patients with terminal illnesses prefer to die at home, yet more than 60% of patients with cancer are hospitalized in the last month of life. Less than half of these patients receive hospice care at the end of life. Inpatient palliative care consultations may serve as a bridge from hospitalization to receiving patient's preferred end-of-life care. GI tumors include some the deadliest cancers, and patients with these cancers may serve to benefit from palliative care services.
Journal of oncology practice / American Society of Clinical Oncology. 05/2014; 10(3):174-7.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report the challenges of the Working to Improve diScussions about DefibrillatOr Management (WISDOM) Trial, our novel, multicenter trial aimed at improving communication between cardiology clinicians and their patients with advanced heart failure (HF) who have implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). The study objectives are to: 1) increase ICD deactivation conversations; 2) increase the number of ICDs deactivated; and 3) improve psychological outcomes in bereaved caregivers. The unit of randomization is the hospital, the intervention is aimed at HF clinicians, and the patient and caregiver are the units of analysis. Three hospitals were randomized to usual care and three to intervention. The intervention consists of an interactive educational session, clinician reminders, and individualized feedback. We enroll patients with advanced HF and their caregivers, and then we regularly survey them to evaluate whether the intervention has improved communication between them and their heart failure providers. We encountered three implementation barriers. First, there were Institutional Review Board (IRB) concerns at two sites because of the palliative nature of the study. Second, we had difficulty in creating entry criteria that accurately identified a HF population at high risk of dying. Third, we had to adapt our entry criteria to the changing landscape of ventricular assist devices and cardiac transplant eligibility. Here we present our novel solutions to the difficulties we encountered. Our work has the ability to enhance conduct of future studies focusing on improving care for patients with advanced illness.
Journal of pain and symptom management 04/2014; · 2.42 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives
To model the steps involved in preparing for and carrying out propensity score analyses by providing step-by-step guidance and Stata code applied to an empirical dataset.Study DesignGuidance, Stata code, and empirical examples are given to illustrate (1) the process of choosing variables to include in the propensity score; (2) balance of propensity score across treatment and comparison groups; (3) balance of covariates across treatment and comparison groups within blocks of the propensity score; (4) choice of matching and weighting strategies; (5) balance of covariates after matching or weighting the sample; and (6) interpretation of treatment effect estimates.Empirical ApplicationWe use data from the Palliative Care for Cancer Patients (PC4C) study, a multisite observational study of the effect of inpatient palliative care on patient health outcomes and health services use, to illustrate the development and use of a propensity score.Conclusions
Propensity scores are one useful tool for accounting for observed differences between treated and comparison groups. Careful testing of propensity scores is required before using them to estimate treatment effects.
Health Services Research 04/2014; · 2.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: IMPORTANCE The impact of the substantial growth in for-profit hospices in the United States on quality and hospice access has been intensely debated, yet little is known about how for-profit and nonprofit hospices differ in activities beyond service delivery. OBJECTIVE To determine the association between hospice ownership and (1) provision of community benefits, (2) setting and timing of the hospice population served, and (3) community outreach. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Cross-sectional survey (the National Hospice Survey), conducted from September 2008 through November 2009, of a national random sample of 591 Medicare-certified hospices operating throughout the United States. EXPOSURES For-profit or nonprofit hospice ownership. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Provision of community benefits; setting and timing of the hospice population served; and community outreach. RESULTS A total of 591 hospices completed our survey (84% response rate). For-profit hospices were less likely than nonprofit hospices to provide community benefits including serving as training sites (55% vs 82%; adjusted relative risk [ARR], 0.67 [95% CI, 0.59-0.76]), conducting research (18% vs 23%; ARR, 0.67 [95% CI, 0.46-0.99]), and providing charity care (80% vs 82%; ARR, 0.88 [95% CI, 0.80-0.96]). For-profit compared with nonprofit hospices cared for a larger proportion of patients with longer expected hospice stays including those in nursing homes (30% vs 25%; P = .009). For-profit hospices were more likely to exceed Medicare's aggregate annual cap (22% vs 4%; ARR, 3.66 [95% CI, 2.02-6.63]) and had a higher patient disenrollment rate (10% vs 6%; P < .001). For-profit were more likely than nonprofit hospices to engage in outreach to low-income communities (61% vs 46%; ARR, 1.23 [95% CI, 1.05-1.44]) and minority communities (59% vs 48%; ARR, 1.18 [95% CI, 1.02-1.38]) and less likely to partner with oncology centers (25% vs 33%; ARR, 0.59 [95% CI, 0.44-0.80]). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Ownership-related differences are apparent among hospices in community benefits, population served, and community outreach. Although Medicare's aggregate annual cap may curb the incentive to focus on long-stay hospice patients, additional regulatory measures such as public reporting of hospice disenrollment rates should be considered as the share of for-profit hospices in the United States continues to increase.
JAMA Internal Medicine 02/2014; · 10.58 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic pain is prevalent among older adults but is underrecognized and undertreated. The approach to pain assessment and management in older adults requires an understanding of the physiology of aging, validated assessment tools, and common pain presentations among older adults.
To identify the overall principles of pain management in older adults with a specific focus on common painful conditions and approaches to pharmacologic treatment.
We searched PubMed for common pain presentations in older adults with heart failure, end-stage renal disease, dementia, frailty, and cancer. We also reviewed guidelines for pain management. Our review encompassed 2 guidelines, 10 original studies, and 22 review articles published from 2000 to the present. This review does not discuss nonpharmacologic treatments of pain.
Clinical guidelines support the use of opioids in persistent nonmalignant pain. Opioids should be used in patients with moderate or severe pain or pain not otherwise controlled but with careful attention to potential toxic effects and half-life. In addition, clinical practice guidelines recommend use of oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with extreme caution and for defined, limited periods.
An understanding of the basics of pain pathophysiology, assessment, pharmacologic management, and a familiarity with common pain presentations will allow clinicians to effectively manage pain for older adults.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hip fractures are a painful condition commonly encountered in the emergency department (ED). Older adults in pain often receive suboptimal doses of analgesics, particularly in crowded EDs. Nerve blocks have been utilized by anesthesiologists to help control pain from hip fractures postoperatively. The use of nerve stimulator with ultrasonographic guidance has increased the safety of this procedure.
We instituted a pilot study to assess the ability of Emergency Medicine (EM) resident physicians to effectively perform this procedure after a didactic and demonstration session.
First-year EM residents from three urban training programs underwent a 1-h didactic and hands-on training session on the femoral nerve block (FNB) procedure. A written pretest was used to assess baseline knowledge; it was administered again (with test items randomized) at 1 and 3 months post training session. A critical actions checklist (direct observation of procedure steps via simulated patient encounter) was used to assess the residents after the training session and again at 3 months.
A total of 38 EM residents were initially evaluated. Thirty-three successfully completed 1-month and 3-month written test evaluations; 30 completed all written and direct observation evaluations. The mean written pretest scores were 66% (SD 9); post-test 92% (SD 5), 1-month 74% (SD 8), and 3-month 75% (SD 9). After initial training, 37 of 38 (97%) residents demonstrated competency (completing ≥ 15 of 19 critical actions) in the FNB procedure determined via direct observation. At 3 months, 25 of 30 residents (83%) continued to retain 85% of their initial critical action skills, and 3 of 30 (10%) saw an improvement in their proficiency.
A 1-h training and demonstration module yielded high competency rates in residents performing critical actions related to the FNB; these skills were well maintained at 3 months. An ongoing study will attempt to correlate this competency with procedures performed on patients.
Journal of Emergency Medicine 08/2013; · 1.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rationale: Factors associated with long-term brain dysfunction (LTBD) in survivors of chronic critical illness (CCI) have not been explored but may be important for clinical practice and planning by patients, families, and providers. Objectives: To identify risk factors for LTBD after treatment for CCI and to explore the association between acute delirium and coma during hospital treatment and LTBD. Methods: A prospective cohort study of adults admitted to a respiratory care unit for treatment of CCI. Measurements and Main Results: Using the Confusion Assessment Method for ICU and the Richmond Agitation and Sedation Scale, we evaluated patients for delirium and coma during their hospital treatment for CCI. We collected data on other potential risk factors for LTBD by prospectively reviewing the patients' medical records and interviewing surrogates. We contacted survivors by telephone at 6 months after discharge to assess brain function using the telephone Confusion Assessment Method. Among 385 patients treated for CCI, 213 (56.1%) were dead at 6 months, and 108 of 167 (64.7%) of survivors were impaired. We used multinomial logistic regression in which the outcomes were (1) death, (2) brain dysfunction, and (3) survival without LTBD. Older patients, patients with higher Acute Physiology Score, and those with multiple complications during treatment for CCI were more likely to have LTBD. Acute brain dysfunction during hospital treatment was also associated with an increased risk of LTBD (odds ratio, 2.14; 95% confidence interval, 1.02-4.52). Conclusions: LTBD after treatment for CCI is associated with brain dysfunction during such treatment as well as with older age and higher severity of illness of the patients.
Annals of the American Thoracic Society. 08/2013; 10(4):315-23.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To summarize the current United States healthcare system and describe current models of palliative care delivery.
Palliative care services in the USA have been heavily influenced by the public-private fee-for-service reimbursement system. Hospice provides care for 46% of adults at the end-of-life under the Medicare hospice benefit. Palliative care teams in hospitals have rapidly expanded to provide care for seriously ill patients irrespective of prognosis. To date, over two-thirds of all hospitals and over 85% of mid to large size hospitals report a palliative care team. With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, healthcare reform provides an opportunity for new models of care.
Palliative care services are well established within hospitals and hospice. Future work is needed to develop quality metrics, create care models that provide services in the community, and increase the palliative care workforce.
Current opinion in supportive and palliative care 06/2013; 7(2):201-6.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite its demonstrated potential to both improve quality of care and lower costs, the Medicare hospice benefit has been seen as producing savings only for patients enrolled 53-105 days before death. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, 2002-08, and individual Medicare claims, and overcoming limitations of previous work, we found $2,561 in savings to Medicare for each patient enrolled in hospice 53-105 days before death, compared to a matched, nonhospice control. Even higher savings were seen, however, with more common, shorter enrollment periods: $2,650, $5,040, and $6,430 per patient enrolled 1-7, 8-14, and 15-30 days prior to death, respectively. Within all periods examined, hospice patients also had significantly lower rates of hospital service use and in-hospital death than matched controls. Instead of attempting to limit Medicare hospice participation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should focus on ensuring the timely enrollment of qualified patients who desire the benefit.
Health Affairs 03/2013; 32(3):552-61. · 4.64 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract Background: Palliative care clinical and educational programs are expanding to meet the needs of seriously ill patients and their families. Multiple reports call for an enhanced palliative care evidence base. Objective: To examine current National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding of palliative medicine research and changes since our 2008 report.( 1 ) Methods: We sought to identify NIH funding of palliative medicine from 2006 to 2010 in two stages. First, we searched the NIH grants database RePorter( 2 ) for grants with key words "palliative care," "end-of-life care," "hospice," and "end of life." Second, we identified palliative care researchers likely to have secured NIH funding using three strategies: (1) We abstracted the first and last authors' names from original investigations published in major palliative medicine journals from 2008 to 2010; (2) we abstracted these names from a PubMed generated list of all original articles published in major medicine, nursing, and subspecialty journals using the above key words Medical Subject Headings (MESH) terms "palliative care," "end-of-life care," "hospice," and "end of life;" and (3) we identified editorial board members of palliative medicine journals and key members of palliative medicine research initiatives. We crossmatched the pooled names against NIH grants funded from 2006 to 2010. Results: The NIH RePorter search yielded 653 grants and the author search identified an additional 352 grants. Compared to 2001 to 2005, 589 (240%) more grants were NIH funded. The 391 grants categorized as relevant to palliative medicine represented 294 unique PIs, an increase of 185 (269%) NIH funded palliative medicine researchers. The NIH supported 21% of the 1253 original palliative medicine research articles identified. Compared to 2001 to 2005, the percentage of grants funded by institutes other than the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institute for Nursing Research (NINR), and the National Institute of Aging (NIA) increased from 15% to 20% of all grants. Conclusions: When compared to 2001-2005, more palliative medicine investigators received NIH funding; and research funding has improved. Nevertheless, additional initiatives to further support palliative care research are needed.
Journal of palliative medicine 01/2013; · 1.84 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: STUDY OBJECTIVE: We identify hospital-level factors from the administrative perspective that affect the availability and delivery of palliative care services in the emergency department (ED). METHODS: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 key informants, including hospital executives, ED directors, and palliative care directors at a tertiary care center, a public hospital, and a community hospital. The discussions were digitally recorded and transcribed to conduct a thematic analysis using grounded theory. A coding scheme was iteratively developed to subsequently identify themes and subthemes that emerged from the interviews. RESULTS: Barriers to integrating palliative care and emergency medicine from the administrative perspective include the ED culture of aggressive care, limited knowledge, palliative care staffing, and medicolegal concerns. Incentives to the delivery of palliative care in the ED from these key informants' perspective include improved patient and family satisfaction, opportunities to provide meaningful care to patients, decreased costs of care for admitted patients, and avoidance of unnecessary admissions to more intensive hospital settings, such as the ICU, for patients who have little likelihood of benefit. CONCLUSION: Though hospital administration at 3 urban hospitals on the East coast has great interest in integrating palliative care and emergency medicine to improve quality of care, patient and family satisfaction, and decrease length of stay for admitted patients, palliative care staffing, medicolegal concerns, and logistic issues need to be addressed.
Annals of emergency medicine 07/2012; · 4.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A large gap exists between the practice of emergency medicine and palliative care. Although hospice and palliative medicine has recently been recognized as a subspecialty of emergency medicine, few palliative care teams routinely interact with emergency providers, and primary palliative care skills among emergency providers are lacking.
To identify the proportion and characteristics of patients who receive a palliative care consultation and arrive via the emergency department (ED).
A descriptive study of adult ED patients from an urban, academic tertiary care hospital who received a palliative care consultation in January 2005 or January 2009.
In January 2005, 100 of the 161 consults (62%) arrived via the ED versus 63 of 124 consults (51%) in January 2009 (p=0.06). Mean days from admission to consultation in January 2005 were six days (standard deviation 11), versus nine days (SD 26) in January 2009 (p=0.35). Three of the 100 consultations (3%) in January 2005 were initiated in the ED, versus 4 of the 64 (6%) in January 2009.
At an urban academic medical center with a well-developed palliative care service, the majority of palliative care consultations were for patients who arrive via the ED. Despite this, only a small minority of consultations originated from emergency providers and consultation was on average initiated days into a patient's hospital stay.
Journal of palliative medicine 04/2012; 15(4):396-9. · 1.84 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Palliative care is a rapidly growing subspecialty of medicine entailing expert and active assessment, evaluation and treatment of the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of patients and families with serious illnesses. It provides an added layer of support to the patient's regular medical care. As cancer is detected earlier and its treatments improve, palliative care is increasingly playing a vital role in the oncology population. Because of these advances in oncology, the role of palliative care services for such patients is actively evolving. Herein, we will highlight emerging paradigms in palliative care and attempt to delineate key education, research and policy areas that lie ahead for the field of palliative oncology. Despite the critical need for improving multi-faceted and multi-specialty symptom management and patient-physician communication, we will focus on the interface between palliative care and oncology specialists, a relationship that can lead to better overall patient care on all of these levels.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hospital use near the end of life is often undesirable to patients, represents considerable Medicare cost, and varies widely across regions.
To concurrently examine regional and patient factors, including disability and functional decline, associated with end-of-life hospital use.
We sampled decedents aged 65 and older (n = 2,493) from the Health and Retirement Study (2000-2006), and linked data from individual Medicare claims and the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. Two-part regression models estimated the relationship between total hospital days in the last 6 months and patient characteristics including physical function, while adjusting for regional resources and hospital care intensity (HCI).
Median hospital days was 7 (range = 0-183). 53% of respondents had functional decline. Compared with decedents without functional decline, those with severe disability or decline had more regression-adjusted hospital days (range 3.47-9.05, depending on category). Dementia was associated with fewer days (-3.02); while chronic kidney disease (2.37), diabetes (2.40), stroke or transient ischemic attack (2.11), and congestive heart failure (1.74) were associated with more days. African Americans and Hispanics had more days (5.91 and 4.61, respectively). Those with family nearby had 1.62 fewer days and hospice enrollees had 1.88 fewer days. Additional hospital days were associated with urban residence (1.74) and residence in a region with more specialists (1.97) and higher HCI (2.27).
Functional decline is significantly associated with end-of-life hospital use among older adults. To improve care and reduce costs, health care programs and policies should address specific needs of patients with functional decline and disability.
Journal of General Internal Medicine 03/2012; 27(7):794-800. · 3.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dementia is a leading cause of death in the United States. This article outlines the current understanding of advanced dementia and identifies research priorities for the next decade. Research over the past 25 years has largely focused on describing the experience of patients with advanced dementia. This work has delineated abundant opportunities for improvement, including greater recognition of advanced dementia as a terminal illness, better treatment of distressing symptoms, increased access to hospice and palliative care services, and less use of costly and aggressive treatments that may be of limited clinical benefit. Addressing those opportunities must be the overarching objective for the field in the coming decade. Priority areas include designing and testing interventions that promote high-quality, goal-directed care; health policy research to identify strategies that incentivize cost-effective and evidence-based care; implementation studies of promising interventions and policies; and further development of disease-specific outcome measures. There is great need and opportunity to improve outcomes, contain expenditures, reduce disparities, and better coordinate care for the millions of persons in the United States who have advanced dementia.
Annals of internal medicine 01/2012; 156(1 Pt 1):45-51. · 13.98 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The elimination of suffering and the cure of disease are the fundamental goals of medicine. While medical advances have transformed previously fatal conditions such as cancer and heart disease into illnesses that people can live with for many years, they have not been accompanied by corresponding improvements in the quality of life for these patients and their families. Living with a serious illness should not mean living in pain or experiencing symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea, or fatigue. Yet, multiple studies over the past decade suggest that medical care for patients with advanced illness is characterized by inadequately treated physical distress; fragmented care systems; poor communication between doctors, patients, and families; and enormous strains on family caregiver and support systems. Palliative care is interdisciplinary care focused on relief of pain and other symptoms and support for best possible quality of life for patients with serious illness, and their families. It is appropriate at the point of diagnosis of a serious illness. It goes beyond hospice care to offer patients and their families treatments focused on improving quality of life while they are receiving life-prolonging and curative treatments. Palliative care programs have been shown to reduce symptoms, improve doctor-patient-family communication and satisfaction with care, as well as enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of hospital services. In the last 5 years alone the number of palliative care programs has more than doubled. This growth is in response to the increasing numbers and needs of Americans living with serious, complex and chronic illnesses, and the realities of the care responsibilities faced by their families. In order to ensure that all persons with serious illness and their families receive the quality of care they deserve, palliative care must become an integral part of the U.S. healthcare landscape. Specifically, persons facing serious illness and their families must know to request palliative care, medical professionals must have the knowledge and skills to provide palliative care, and hospitals and other healthcare institutions must be equipped to deliver and support palliative care services. The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) and the National Palliative Care Research Center (NPCRC) are accomplishing this three-part mission by working in partnership to: 1) Develop research to serve as the knowledge base for quality clinical care and the foundation on which to build palliative care programs and systems; 2) Disseminate this knowledge to patients, families, professionals, and institutions throughout the United States and ensure that it is integrated within mainstream healthcare; and 3) Influence and collaborate with policy makers , regulatory bodies, and federal funding agencies to ensure that the healthcare infrastructure supports the continued growth and development of palliative care.