Queen's University

Communication key in end-of-life care

 
2012-04-12

A recent study has determined end-of-life care and advance care planning for high risk, hospitalized elderly patients needs significant improvement.

The Advance Care Planning Evaluation in Elderly Patients (ACCEPT) study, led by Queen’s professor of medicine Daren Heyland and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, focused on 283 hospitalized patients at a high risk for dying and their families in 12 institutions across the country. Dr. Heyland was the principal investigator through his work as scientific director of Canadian Researchers at the End of Life Network (CARENET).

“We should be doing a better job,” says Dr. Heyland, who is also a staff physician at Kingston General Hospital. “Patients that are 80 and older living with advanced chronic medical problems and hospitalized with acute medical complications are at high risk for dying and there are clear indications from this study that good communication and decision making are not happening. The consequences of poor planning at the end of life are enormous as it adds to the suffering of patients, their families and wastes precious health care resources.”

Results from the ACCEPT study showed:

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60 per cent of patients have a living will in place. Despite their age and health status, a number of them indicated this wasn’t relevant to their situation.

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75 per cent have investigated life-sustaining treatment.

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The greatest unmet need for patients and their families was learning more about comfort measures and controlling symptoms.

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Doctor talked to less than 20 per cent of patients surveyed about their prognosis.

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The average satisfaction with end of life care is 68 per cent.

Learn more about the ACCEPT study on the Advance Care Planning website.

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