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End-of-life care during and after an acute hospitalization in older patients with cancer, end-stage organ failure, or frailty: A sub-analysis of a prospective cohort study

Sanne Huijberts, Bianca M Buurman, Sophia E de Rooij
Palliative Medicine 2016, 30 (1): 75-82

BACKGROUND: Many patients show deterioration in functioning and increased care needs in the last year of life. End-of-life care needs and health care utilization might differ between groups of acutely hospitalized older patients.

AIM: To investigate differences in geriatric conditions, advance care planning, and health care utilization in patients with cancer, organ failure, or frailty, who died within 1 year after acute hospitalization.

DESIGN: Prospective cohort study conducted between 2002 and 2008, with 1-year follow-up.

SETTING: University teaching hospital in the Netherlands.

PARTICIPANTS: Aged ⩾65 years, acutely hospitalized for ⩾48 h, and died within 1 year after hospitalization. At admission, all patients received a systematic comprehensive geriatric assessment. Hospital records were searched for advance care planning information and health care utilization. Differences between patient groups were calculated.

RESULTS: In total, 306 patients died within 1 year after acute admission (35%) and were included; 151 with cancer, 98 with end-stage organ failure, and 57 frail older persons. At hospital admission, 72% of the frail group had delirium and/or severe pre-existing cognitive impairment. The frail and organ failure group had many pre-existing disabilities. Three months post-discharge, 75% of the frail and organ failure group had died, 45% of these patients had an advance care plan in their hospital records.

CONCLUSION: Patients with frailty and organ failure had highest rates of geriatric conditions at hospital admission and often had missing information on advance care planning in the hospital records. There is a need to better identify end-of-life needs for these groups.

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