Dying in hospital: medical failure or natural outcomes?

Middlewood, Sue, Gardner, Glenn E., & Gardner, Anne (2001) Dying in hospital: medical failure or natural outcomes? Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 22(6), pp. 1035-1041.

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to describe patterns of medical and nursing practice in the care of patients dying of oncological and hematological malignancies in the acute care setting in Australia. A tool validated in a similar American study was used to study the medical records of 100 consecutive patients who died of oncological or hematological malignancies before August 1999 at The Canberra Hospital in the Australian Capital Territory. The three major indicators of patterns of end-of-life care were documentation of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders, evidence that the patient was considered dying, and the presence of a palliative care intention. Findings were that 88 patients were documented DNR, 63 patients' records suggested that the patient was dying, and 74 patients had evidence of a palliative care plan. Forty-six patients were documented DNR 2 days or less prior to death and, of these, 12 were documented the day of death. Similar patterns emerged for days between considered dying and death, and between palliative care goals and death. Sixty patients had active treatment in progress at the time of death. The late implementation of end-of-life management plans and the lack of consistency within these plans suggested that patients were subjected to medical interventions and investigations up to the time of death. Implications for palliative care teams include the need to educate health care staff and to plan and implement policy regarding the management of dying patients in the acute care setting. Although the health care system in Australia has cultural differences when compared to the American context, this research suggests that the treatment imperative to prolong life is similar to that found in American-based studies.

Impact and interest:

74 citations in Scopus
59 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 56473
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: terminal care, end-of-life decisions, dying in hospital
DOI: 10.1016/S0885-3924(01)00362-1
ISSN: 1873-6513
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NURSING (111000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Nursing
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2001 Elsevier
Deposited On: 17 Jan 2013 03:14
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2013 03:14

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