End-of-life plans benefit patients and families

Without an EOL plan, it can be difficult for health care providers to provide care which meets the needs of patients.

(Medical Xpress)—Health care at the end of life is a difficult issue but a new study highlights the importance of making a plan for end-of-life decisions.

The study, published in the Australian Health Review, aimed to identify end-of-life (EOL) decision-making processes for patients with non-cancer illnesses in a major metropolitan hospital.

Lead researcher Dr Susan Lee, from the Palliative Care Research Team at Monash University, said most patients involved in the study did not discuss plans for end-of-life care until the last 24 hours, affecting their quality of care at the end of their lives.

"In 64 per cent of people, the first discussions about EOL care did not occur until the last 24 hours of life. There were some patients who had a clear plan developed with patient/family involvement, which was fully implemented. However, many others had no plan and minimal patient/ in decision-making," Dr Lee said.

"Without an EOL plan, it can be difficult for to provide care which meets the needs of patients and reflects their priorities and beliefs. For example, decisions about pain relief, resuscitation, the location of treatment as well as psychological and can be outlined in an EOL plan which can give health services guidance when providing care."

The study involved a review of 47 randomly selected over a six-month period. This represented 53 per cent of total deaths in the study period.

The study also found the development and effective implementation of EOL plans was associated with the active involvement of both family members and . It also identified that there were risks in delaying EOL discussions until illness has progressed to a late stage.

and providers also played an important role. The study found that trust in, and positive communication with, health professionals and timely referral to help in the development and successful implementation of EOL plans.

"Factors which were associated with having an EOL plan were multiple previous admissions, shorter hospitalisations and being older at the time of death," Dr Lee said.

"Based on this study, more effort needs to be put into promoting the benefits of EOL plans and supporting health services and providers to implement plans as closely as possible. This will assist in improving the quality of care for people at the end of their lives."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Themes identified for improving end-of-life care in ER

Sep 05, 2012

(HealthDay)—Major and minor themes have been identified by emergency nurses who often provide end-of-life (EOL) care in the emergency department setting, according to a study published in the September ...

Improving end-of-life care

Oct 04, 2010

Better psychological and spiritual support, better planning of care and stronger relationships with physicians are necessary to improve end-of-life care in Canada, states a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Associati ...

Recommended for you

Study: Americans endure unwanted care near death

10 hours ago

Americans suffer needless discomfort and undergo unwanted and costly care as they die, in part because of a medical system ruled by "perverse incentives" for aggressive care and not enough conversation about what people want, ...

Failed Medicare payments law remains relevant

11 hours ago

In a new commentary in the journal JAMA Surgery, Dr. Eli Adashi recounts what he and other advocates saw as merits of the originally bipartisan Sustainable Growth Rate Repeal and Medicare Provider Paymen ...

User comments