Author(s): Cheung W, Aggarwal G, Fugaccia E, Thanakrishnan G, Milliss D,
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Abstract OBJECTIVES: To determine whether palliative care teams can improve patient, family and staff satisfaction for patients receiving end-of-life care in the intensive care unit and reduce surrogate markers of health care costs. DESIGN: Randomised controlled, feasibility study. SETTING: 14-bed general ICU over 29 months in 2006-2008. PARTICIPANTS: Patients admitted with a terminal or preterminal condition, for whom the treating intensivist considered that escalating or continuing treatment was unlikely to achieve significant improvement in the patient's clinical condition. INTERVENTION: A consultation from a palliative care team, in addition to usual ICU end-of-life care. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: ICU and hospital length of stay, and changes in composite scores of satisfaction obtained from questionnaires administered to families, nursing staff and intensivists. RESULTS: The study was constrained by significant logistical and methodological problems, including low recruitment and questionnaire completion rates, and the lack of an available validated questionnaire. From a total of 2009 admissions over a 29-month period, 20 patients were enrolled, 10 in each group. There were significant differences in baseline characteristics. There were no statistically significant differences between those who had a consultation with the palliative care team and those who did not in median ICU length of stay (3 days v 5 days, P=0.97), median hospital length of stay (5 days v 11 days, P=0.44), or changes in overall composite satisfaction scores reported by families (-6\% v -6\%, P=0.91), nursing staff (+5\% v +15\%, P=0.30), and intensivists (-2\% v +2\%, P=0.42). CONCLUSION: This feasibility study was difficult to conduct and did not generate any robust conclusions about the utility of involving palliative care teams in end-of-life care in the ICU. Larger studies are technically possible but unlikely to be feasible. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN012606000110583.
This article was published in Crit Care Resusc
and referenced in International Journal of School and Cognitive Psychology