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MP08: The frequency of emergency departments visits for patients with end-of-life conditions: a call for action

  • S. Kirkland (a1), M. Kruhlak (a1), M. Garrido Clua (a1), C. Villa-Roel (a1), S. Couperthwaite (a1), A. Brisebois (a1), A. Elwi (a1), B. O'Neil (a1), S. Duggan (a1) and B. Rowe (a1)...

Abstract

Introduction: An increasing number of patients with end-stage diseases present to emergency departments (EDs) for physical, spiritual, psychological and social care. The objective of this study was to identify patients with end-stage diseases with palliative care (PC) needs and document their frequency of ED visits. Methods: This prospective cohort study was conducted in two Canadian EDs. Using a modified palliative care screening tool, volunteer ED physicians were asked to identify adult patients with end-stage, chronic conditions including cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease (CKD), heart failure (HF), cirrhosis, dementia and/or progressive central nervous system (PCNS) disease. Demographic data were collected from these tools and data regarding patients’ visits in both the 6 months prior to and 30 days following their index visits were collected from the ED Information System. Bivariate analyses were completed using Student's t and chi-square test. Results: A total of 663 patients with end-stage illness were identified; 338 (51%) were female and the median age was 76 (IQR: 63, 85). Cancer was the most common presentation (41%), followed by dementia (23%), COPD (16%), HF (9%), CKD (9%), PCNS disease (9%) and cirrhosis (7%). These patients made a total of 1277 visits in the 6 months prior to and 288 in the 30 days following the index visit. Patients presenting to the EDs with cancer (p = 0.001), cirrhosis (p = 0.005) and CKD (p = 0.03) were more likely to visit an ED in the 6 months prior to their index visit. In contrast, patients presenting with dementia (p < 0.0001) and PCNS disease (p = 0.02) were significantly less likely to present to an ED in the 6 months prior to their index visit. Patients presenting with cirrhosis or CKD had the highest average number of ED visits in the 6 months prior to their index visit (cirrhosis: 4.59 visits, SD: 3.8, p < 0.0001; CKD: 4.39 visits, SD: 3.8, p = 0.0001). Of these patients, those presenting with end-stage cirrhosis were significantly more likely to make a return visit to an ED within 30 days after their index visit (p = 0.014). Conclusion: Cancer is the most common condition for patients with end-stage, chronic illnesses in these EDs. Those presenting with cirrhosis or CKD are at a significantly higher risk of repeat visits to the EDs. This study has identified potential deficits in care and can serve as a baseline for future intervention studies.

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