Palace of Care – Living every moment

Living every moment when you’re dying

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In New Zealand last week we celebrated Hospice Awareness Weak and to tell you the truth I’m not sure how impactful the week actually was. Continue reading

“Failure to maintain”: do hospitals cause suffering in older people?

Today Palliverse talks to Assistant Professor Kasia Bail (@Kasia_Bail) from the University of Canberra. Kasia is a nurse, a researcher, a kung fu instructor and a drummer in a metal band. She came to our attention via social media when we noticed her crowdfunding campaign for the next stage of her research into nursing care of complex, hospitalised older people. Here at Palliverse we are fans of crowdfunding, although we’re yet to use it for research purposes!

Kasia’s research aims to improve sustainable acute care health delivery for an ageing population, while her clinical experience includes general medical and acute palliative care. In her PhD, Kasia developed an approach to measure nurse-sensitive outcomes, which is currently being used to evaluate a Government-funded implementation of a cognitive identifier. Kasia has a passion for identifying and researching the structures and processes which impede or enable quality patient care, and sharing her learning and inquiry with nursing students, industry and professional groups. Here, Palliverse asks her about her latest research project and dipping her toe into the world of social media.

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Dr Kasia Bail (image via Dr Bail)

Your research has led to a new concept in the care of older people with complex medical problems, “Failure to Maintain”. What does this mean? Continue reading

Review article concerning hospital end of life care in NEJM

Not the traditional festive season article perhaps, but this review article by Dr Blinderman and the late Dr Billings provides a good summary in a very reputable and widely read journal concerning end of life care in hospitals in the United States.

Is end of life care in hospital in the US different?

The article reports that 29% of deaths take place in hospitals in America, a bit lower than I would have expected. In Australia, 54% die in hospital but this includes inpatient palliative care deaths which are excluded from the US figure of 29%.

According to AIHW, 42% of the Australians who died in hospital had some involvement from palliative care  (42% of 54% in hospital deaths is 23%) About a third of patients who died as an admitted patient in hospital (a third of 54% is about 15%) died in inpatient palliative care. That still leaves us behind the US, with around 36% dying in a non palliative inpatient Australian hospital bed compared to 29% in the USA.

Interestingly the NEJM article does not refer to subcutaneous medications which are the mainstay of terminal care medication administration in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Do US practitioners use less SC medication?

Personally I don’t find that cough and nausea are so troubling at the end of life, and we would promote meticulous mouth care for dry mouth ahead of pharmacological management.

The article also advises us to avoid benzodiazepines for delirium including at the end of life, which I found surprising.

Dear reader, do you have any thoughts? What is end of life care like in hospitals in your neck of the woods?

 

Elsewhere in the Palliverse – Weekend Reads

I have so many links to share with you. Here are a few of them:

Australian critical care doctor and blogger Andy W writes about death and taxes and asks, “…why is it that we seem to spend so much time talking about the taxes, and not nearly enough about death?” Thought-provoking stuff. “The Things That Are Certain“, The Flying PhD

Death isn’t failure. But avoiding these conversations is.” UK Palliative Care Physician Katherine Sleeman shares her story in this beautiful piece, “While medicine gets better, dying gets worse: Doctors are so good at saving lives that we forget about death.” (The Independent UK) Continue reading

Elsewhere in the Palliverse…weekend reads

Reads for your weekend from across the Palliverse…

How to determine the order of authorship in an academic paper (@paulisci)

Presenting your research findings at a meeting? Here are some useful tips to improve your delivery (Lifehacker)

As I walk through hospital corridors, I’m always grateful for the beautiful artworks displayed. However, I don’t often stop to consider the themes portrayed. Art columnist Jonathon Jones asks, Should hospital art be jolly – or should it portray the truth about pain? (The Guardian). Meanwhile, More hospitals use the healing power of art (Wall Street Journal). What are your thoughts? Continue reading