Turk J Emerg Med. 2016 Mar 2;15(2):100-7. doi: 10.5505/1304.7361.2015.65983. eCollection 2015.
Palliative care (PC) is a new and developing area. It aims to provide the best possible quality of life for patients with life-limiting diseases. It does not primarily include life-extending therapies, but rather tries to help patients spend the rest of their lives in the best way. PC patients often are admitted to emergency departments during the course of a disease. The approach and management of PC include differences with emergency medicine. Thus, there are some problems while providing PC in the ED. With this article, the definition, main features, benefits, and problems of providing PC are presented, with the primary aim of emphasizing the importance of PC integration into the ED.
KEYWORDS: Emergency department; integration; palliative care; training
OBJECTIVE: To describe the clinical and sociodemographic profile of cancer patients admitted to the Emergency Center for High Complexity Oncologic Assistance, observing the coverage of palliative and home care. METHOD: Cross sectional study including adult cancer patients admitted to the emergency service (September-December/2011) with a minimum length of hospital stay of two hours. Student's t-test and Pearson chi-square test were used to compare the means. RESULTS:191 patients were enrolled, 47.6% elderly, 64.4% women, 75.4% from the city of Recife and greater area. The symptom prevalent at admission was pain (46.6%). 4.2% of patients were linked to palliative care and 2.1% to home care. The most prevalent cancers: cervix (18.3%), breast (13.6%) and prostate (10.5%); 70.7% were in advanced stages (IV, 47.1%); 39.4% without any cancer therapy. CONCLUSION: Patients sought the emergency service on account of pain, probably due to the incipient coverage of palliative and home care. These actions should be included to oncologic therapy as soon as possible to minimize the suffering of the patient/family and integrate the skills of oncologists and emergency professionals.
Although visiting the emergency departments (EDs) is considered poor quality of cancer care, there are indications these visits are increasing. Similarly, there is growing interest in providing palliative care (PC) to cancer patients in EDs. However, this integration is not without major challenges. In this article, we review the literature on why cancer patients visit EDs, the rates of hospitalization and mortality for these patients, and the models for integrating PC in EDs. We discuss opportunities such integration will bring to the quality of cancer care, and resource utilization of resources. We also discuss barriers faced by this integration. We found that the most common reasons for ED visits by cancer patients are pain, fever, shortness of breath, and gastrointestinal symptoms. The majority of the patients are admitted to hospitals, about 13% of the admitted patients die during hospitalization, and some patients die in ED. Patients who receive PC at an ED have shorter hospitalization and lower resource utilization. Models based solely on increasing PC provision in EDs by PC specialists have had modest success, while very limited ED-based PC provision has had slightly higher impact. However, details of these programs are lacking, and coordination between ED based PC and hospital-wide PC is not clear. In some studies, the objectives were to improve care in the communities and reduce ED visits and hospitalizations. We conclude that as more patients receive cancer therapy late in their disease trajectory, more cancer patients will visit EDs. Integration of PC with emergency medicine will require active participation of ED physicians in providing PC to cancer patients. PC specialist should play an active role in educating ED physicians about PC, and provide timely consultations. The impact of integrating PC in EDs on quality and cost of cancer care should be studied.