Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Hospital deaths of people aged 90 and over: end-of-life palliative care management.

Hospital deaths of people aged 90 and over: end-of-life palliative care management.
Gerontology, 2008 (epub: 30 May 2008), vol. 54, no. 3,
p. 148-52
Formiga-Francesc, Lopez-Soto-Alfons, Navarro-Margarita et al
BACKGROUND: In developed countries, hospital deaths at very advanced age are increasingly common.Few studies have addressed end-of-life care in very elderly patients with non-cancer chronic diseases. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the circumstances related to end-stage death of non-cancer nonagenarians in an acute care hospital. The results were compared with those from a sample of younger patients. METHODS: We conducted a prospective assessment in two teaching hospitals of the written instructions for the following actions: do not resuscitate (DNR) orders, the graduation of therapeutic decisions, information provided to relatives about prognosis, total withdrawal of normal drug therapy and provision of palliative care. RESULTS: 80 patients over 89 years of age with end-stage congestive heart failure (57.5%) or dementia (42.5%) were included. The control group comprised 52 younger patients (65-74 years). DNR orders were specified in 56% of cases, graduation of therapeutic decisions in 35%, and knowledge of relatives regarding the prognosis in 61%. Drug therapy was withdrawn in 66% of cases and terminal palliative care was initiated in 69%. In the nonagenarians who died, we detected a predominance of females (p = 0.001), a higher percentage of DNR orders (p = 0.02) and a higher percentage of graduation of therapeutic measures (p = 0.02) in comparison with younger patients. CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that there are marked differences according the palliative care provided to oldest-old patients with end-stage non-cancer chronic diseases admitted to an acute care hospital. In any case, care should be improved for both age groups.

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