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Dementia is a progressive illness with a complex biopsychosocial constellation of symptoms faced by millions of individuals and families worldwide. Palliative care teams have specialized in symptom management and end-of-life care for decades; however, the role of palliative care in dementia management is not yet well elucidated. The aim of this systematic review was to understand the impact of palliative care in dementia management.
This systematic review was conducted using a prospective study protocol. Medline and PubMed were searched from January 1, 1998 to October 2017. Eligible studies included single-blind cluster, two-arm parallel cluster, or unblinded randomized controlled trials (RCTs), observational studies, retrospective cohort studies, cross-sectional studies, concurrent mixed methods study, qualitative study, and Delphi studies.
Four key themes were identified in this review: goals of care and end-of-life conversations, symptom management, emergency room visits, and prescribing behavior. In each domain, palliative care consultation either showed benefit or was postulated to have benefit if implemented.
Significance of results
Although the literature to support or refute thematic conclusions is not large, there was a trend toward patient care benefit across several domains. Large RCTs with longer follow-up across different settings should be undertaken to solidify the themes and trends outlined in this review. Understanding the views of healthcare providers including referral sources (i.e., general practitioners and specialists) through qualitative research could optimize palliative care referrals, implement palliative care recommendations, and improve a targeted palliative care education curriculum.
HealthLine is Saskatchewan's provincial 24-hour health information and support telephone line. A proportion of HealthLine's callers are referred to the emergency department (ED) for further assessment. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the appropriateness of these referrals and assess whether they increased the burden on an already strained ED system.
A list of callers referred from HealthLine to Saskatoon EDs from January 1, 2014, to March 31, 2014 was obtained. This list was cross-referenced with Saskatoon Health Region registration data to determine which of those callers had been registered in one of the three Saskatoon EDs within 48 hours of the original call.
During the 90-day time period in question, 707/3,938 (17.9%) of callers were referred by HealthLine to the ED. Out of those referred, 601 were identifiable and 358 attended the ED. Hospital charts were pulled for full data extraction and analysis of the 276 who met inclusion criteria. Of those who presented to the ED and met inclusion criteria, 60% had investigations performed while 66% received some form of treatment. The overall admission rate for the patient population studied was 12.0% v. 16% for non-referred patients. Referred pediatric patients had fewer investigations and treatments with a lower admission rate compared with the adult patients.
The Saskatchewan HealthLine is doing an effective job at directing callers both to and away from EDs in Saskatoon and not overburdening our local EDs with unnecessary referrals.
Severe health anxiety is a chronic and costly disorder if untreated. Patient self-referral may lower barriers to treatment and decrease diagnostic delay.
This study evaluated the accuracy of self-referral for severe health anxiety and compared characteristics of patients self-referred to internet-delivered treatment with patients referred by a clinician to face-to-face treatment.
Two trials in the same clinic employed different referral methods for health anxiety, namely self-referral and clinician-referral (trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01158430 and NCT02735434). The trials were conducted at different time points but with largely comparable eligibility criteria. The accuracy of the recruitment methods was compared by looking at the number of eligible patients in the two trials. Patients completed a baseline questionnaire and subsequently underwent a diagnostic interview by experienced clinicians. Mean differences in self-report and clinical data explored between-group demographic and clinical characteristics.
In total, 101/151 (67%) self-referred patients were eligible compared with 126/254 (50%) clinician-referred patients (P = 0.001). Self-referred patients were 3.4 years older (P = 0.008) and had a somewhat higher educational level (P = 0.030). Patients who self-referred reported significantly higher levels of health anxiety, emotional distress and somatic symptoms compared with clinician-referred patients. Yet, they had less clinician-assessed comorbid anxiety disorders (P<0.001) and better physical health-related quality of life (P<0.001) suggesting a more distinct symptom profile.
Self-referral was found to be an accurate method to recruit highly relevant patients with treatment-demanding health anxiety. Thus, both self-referral and clinician-referral seem feasible and valid referral methods, but they may recruit patients with slightly different characteristics.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence referral guidelines prompting urgent two-week referrals were updated in 2015. Additional symptoms with a lower threshold of 3 per cent positive predictive values were integrated. This study aimed to examine whether current pan-London urgent referral guidelines for suspected head and neck cancer lead to efficient and accurate referrals by assessing frequency of presenting symptoms and risk factors, and examining their correlation with positive cancer diagnoses.
The risk factors and symptoms of 984 consecutive patients (over a six-month period in 2016) were collected retrospectively from urgent referral letters to University College London Hospital for suspected head and neck cancer.
Only 37 referrals (3.76 per cent) resulted in a head and neck cancer diagnosis. Four of the 23 recommended symptoms demonstrated statistically significant results. Nine of the 23 symptoms had a positive predictive value of over 3 per cent.
The findings indicate that the current referral guidelines are not effective at detecting patients with cancer. Detection rates have decreased from 10–15 per cent to 3.76 per cent. A review of the current head and neck cancer referral guidelines is recommended, along with further data collection for comparison.
This study assessed the diagnosis, treatment and referral service provided by untrained providers for sick infants.
In rural India, lack of trained providers causes inopportune treatment of sick infants and results in increase in child morbidity and mortality. The untrained providers deliver a significant proportion of health care for rural infants; however, there is a paucity of information on their treatment practice.
A cross-sectional study was conducted in three rural blocks of Odisha. A total of 337 prescriptions recommended for sick infants were collected from the 15 untrained providers using pre-designed prescription form – designed as per the Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illness (IMNCI) guideline. The forms were collected through the periodic visit and regular follow-up to the providers.
A total of 68% of infants were diagnosed with the possible serious bacterial infection, 56% fever, 10% feeding problems, 9% dysentery and 9% local bacterial infection. A total of 61% of sick infants prescribed antibiotics – cephalosporin was commonly prescribed (56%). Among severe persistent diarrhea-diagnosed infants, 76% prescribed oral rehydration salt (ORS), 48% zinc and 62% of them received various antibiotics. The untrained providers referred 23% of sick infants to trained providers/facilities. In rural settings, most of the sick infants sought care from untrained providers; however, none of them followed any standard treatment protocol. This study suggests there is a need for training on common disease algorithm and treatment using a standard guideline for untrained providers to reduce inopportuneness in the treatment of sick infants, promoting early diagnosis and referral services to public health systems.
Introduction: Renal colic is a common presentation which exerts a significant burden on healthcare infrastructure. A significant proportion of patients managed with observation may return to the Emergency Department (ED) prior to spontaneous passage due to inadequate analgesia. It is unclear whether early urologist consultation would limit the burden of renal stones by reducing returns to the ED. We wished to determine whether urologist referral from the ED department is associated with fewer returns to the ED with renal colic. Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review using RECORD methodology of consecutive patients diagnosed with CT-confirmed, ureteric or renal calculi in our ED over a two-year period. Disposition was categorized as either hospital admission, outpatient urologist referral, follow up with primary care, or no follow up. The primary outcome was the 30-day ED re-presentation for renal colic. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify predictors for ED-return. Results: In total, 232 patients met our inclusion criteria. Urgent or outpatient urologist referral was not associated with a significantly lower ED return rate when compared to patients with no follow-up. Surprisingly, urologic intervention and stent placement were both independent predictors for ED return (OR: 2.03; 95% CI: (1.06-3.88); p:0.03) and (OR:2.08; 95% CI: (1.07-4.05). Conclusion: A significant proportion of patients who underwent urologist-led intervention returned to the ED with renal colic. Further study may help clarify the role of early urologist referral for renal calculi, as this may not reduce ED return rates when compared to conservative management.
Objectives: To evaluate the attitudes and perceptions of psychiatrists and psychiatry residents regarding neurosurgical procedures for treating psychiatric disorders and to identify potential barriers to patient referral. Methods: A survey consisting of 25 questions was created using SurveyMonkey and was distributed to psychiatrists and psychiatry residents in Quebec. The study was approved by the McGill University Health Center’s Research Ethics Board. Descriptive statistics and Friedman’s test were performed using SPSS software. Results: A total of 99 participants, including 64 residents and 35 psychiatrists, completed more than 75% of the survey and were included in data analysis. Overall, participants were significantly (p < 0.0005) more comfortable in referring patients suffering from treatment-resistant obsessive–compulsive disorder than from treatment-resistant major depressive disorder and preferred to refer patients for deep brain stimulation (DBS) rather than for anterior cingulotomy/capsulotomy (AC). Only 11.43% of psychiatrists had ever referred a patient for AC or DBS, and 34.69% of respondents felt that these procedures were dangerous. Lack of knowledge (82.83%) was viewed as the principal limiting factor, and 57.58% of respondents identified ≥6 different barriers to patient referral. The majority of participants (69.39%) were interested in improving their knowledge on psychiatric neurosurgery, and 82.65% felt that this subject should be included in the psychiatry residency curriculum. Conclusion: Overall, participants acknowledged having many limitations to referring patients for neurosurgical interventions. While informative conferences discussing neuromodulation/neuroablation could easily address many barriers, further studies are required to assess how these could change attitudes and patterns of referral.
This article examines legislative changes related to abortion regulation in Australia that create obligations of medical referral on practitioners who have a conscientious objection to abortion. Despite a significant Australian history of accepting secularized conscience claims, particularly in the field of military conscription, the limitation of conscience claims about abortion can be traced to a failure to appreciate the significant secular arguments that can be made to support such claims. We draw on arguments of plurality and pragmatism as capable of providing a firm foundation for legislative protections of freedom of conscience in the case of medical referral for abortion. These justifications are not dependent on religious grounds, and therefore they have the potential to be relevant and persuasive in a secular society such as Australia. Acceptance of a pluralistic argument in favor of freedom of conscience is a powerful commitment to the creation of a society that values human autonomy and a diversity of opinion. It sits comfortably with the democratic values that are enshrined in the Australian political system and institutions. It avoids the potential damage to the individual that may be wrought when conscience is overridden by state compulsion.
As prevalence of mental health disorders increases worldwide, recognition and treatment of these disorders falls increasingly into the remit of primary care. This study investigated the prevalence and management of adults presenting to their general practitioner (GP) in Ireland with a psychological condition.
A random number function was used to select 100 patients with a consultation in the previous 2 years from 40 general practices around Ireland. The clinical records of these patients were examined using a standardised reporting tool to extract information on demographics, eligibility for free care, prevalence and treatment of psychological conditions.
From a sample of 3845 ‘active’ patients, 620 (16%, 95% confidence interval 15–17%) had a documented psychological condition in the previous 2 years. The most common diagnoses were depression (54%) followed by stress and anxiety (47%). The following patient characteristics were associated with having a documented mental health condition: female gender; higher GP consultation rate; a referral or attendance at secondary care and eligibility for free GP care. Of those with a psychological condition, 34% received a psychological intervention and 81% received a pharmacological intervention.
The overall prevalence estimate of mental health disorders for this sample was lower than previously documented in primary care. Patients diagnosed with mental health disorders had higher utilisation of health services and pharmacological treatment was common.
As part of a larger clinical trial concerning the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for treatment-resistant depression, the current study aimed to examine referral emails to describe the clinical characteristics of people who self-refer and explore the reasons for self-referral for TMS treatment. We used content analysis to explore these characteristics and thematic analysis to explore the reasons for self-referral.
Of the 98 referrals, 57 (58%) were for women. Depressive disorder was the most commonly cited diagnosis, followed by bipolar affective disorder. Six themes emerged from the thematic analysis: treatment resistance, side-effects of other treatments, desperation for relief, proactively seeking information, long-term illness and illness getting worse.
TMS has recently been recommended in the UK for routine use in clinical practice. Therefore, the number of people who self-refer for TMS treatment is likely to increase as its availability increases.
To examine similarities and differences in the demographic and clinical profiles of young people (15–25 years of age) referred between the mental health services (MHS) and Jigsaw Galway.
A retrospective chart review was conducted of clinical files of individuals attending secondary MHS who had been referred to or from Jigsaw Galway over a 5-year period. Differences in demographic and clinical data between individuals referred to or from Jigsaw Galway were compared.
A recent act of self-harm was more prevalent in individuals referred from Jigsaw to the adult MHS (p=0.02). No other demographic or clinical differences were detected between individuals attending Jigsaw Galway and the MHS.
Education sessions for clinical staff working in primary care, Jigsaw Galway and the MHS are suggested to support clinicians in choosing the best referral pathway, which may more optimally address young people’s mental health difficulties.
Out-of-area (OOA) placements occur when patients cannot be admitted to local facilities, which can be extremely stressful for patients and families. Thus, the Department of Health aims to eliminate the need for OOA admissions. Using data from a UK mental health trust we developed a ‘virtual mental health ward’ to evaluate the potential impact of referral rates and length of stay (LOS) on OOA rates. The results indicated OOA rates were equally sensitive to LOS and referral rate. This suggests that investment in community services that reduce both LOS and referral rates are required to meaningfully reduce OOA admission rates.
Declaration of interest
P.A.T. holds an honorary consultant contract with the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.
The objective of this study was to describe the provision of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation acute care consultations in the United States and Canada. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation department chairs/division directors at academic centers in Canada and the United States were mailed an 18-item questionnaire. Seven of 13 (54%) Canadian and 26/78 (33%) American surveys were returned. A majority of Canadian and American academic institutions provide acute care consultations; however, there were some national differences. American institutions see larger volumes of patients, and more American respondents indicated using a dedicated acute care consultation service model compared with Canadians.
To identify the reasons why patients with minor complaints choose emergency departments (EDs) as a first contact of care and whether dissatisfaction with primary care services influences their decisions.
In this study, a self-completed survey called EUROPEP was given to 535 outpatients who were admitted to the XXXXX Hospital in Bursa and examined in the green zone in July 2015. Patients were asked about their complaints and why they preferred EDs as a first contact of care.
EDs were the first contact of care in 87.8% of cases. In all, 9% of patients registered to family physicians who were working outside the city of Bursa. There was no relationship between patient satisfaction and the number of previous visits to EDs in last 12 months (P=0.09). The main reasons for admitting to the emergency services were feeling excessive pain (20.4%), perception of urgency (14.5%) and that the family doctor services were closed outside working hours (13.2%). The mean patient satisfaction with family practice offices was calculated to be 68.1%.
The frequency of admission to EDs as a first contact of care was extremely high in the absence of a referral system. Patients who did not have family doctors in the settlement where they live put an extra burden on the EDs. Overall, patient satisfaction with their GPs did not influence the number of visits to EDs but accessibility remains a big challenge.
Referral letters sent from primary to secondary or tertiary care are a crucial element in the continuity of patient information transfer. Internationally, the need for improvement in this area has been recognised. This aim of this study is to review the current literature pertaining to interventions that are designed to improve referral letter quality.
A search strategy designed following a Problem, Intervention, Comparator, Outcome model was used to explore the PubMed and EMBASE databases for relevant literature. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were established and bibliographies were screened for relevant resources.
A total of 18 publications were included in this study. Four types of interventions were described: electronic referrals were shown to have several advantages over paper referrals but were also found to impose new barriers; peer feedback increases letter quality and can decrease ‘inappropriate referrals’ by up to 50%; templates increase documentation and awareness of risk factors; mixed interventions combining different intervention types provide tangible improvements in content and appropriateness.
Several methodological considerations were identified in the studies reviewed but our analysis demonstrates that a combination of interventions, introduced as part of a joint package and involving peer feedback can improve.
To describe the behavioural and psychiatric problems found in nursing home psychiatric referrals in the Dublin South city area.
We undertook two consecutive surveys of nursing home referrals to the St James’s Hospital psychiatry of old age service over a 2-year period. During the second survey a new clinical nurse specialist was specifically appointed to manage the seven nursing homes included in the study.
The most common reason for referral during survey one was uncooperative/aggressive behaviour (22%). For survey two, patients were most commonly referred for low mood (31%) or agitation (29%). During survey one, the majority of patients assessed were diagnosed with behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (41%). This was also a prevalent diagnosis during survey two, affecting 27% of those referred. Only 7% of patients were considered to be delirious during survey one. This rose to 31% the following year making it the most common diagnosis during survey two. Over the 2-year study period, 7% of referred patients were diagnosed with depression. In terms of prescribing practices, the discontinuation rate of antipsychotic mediation following psychiatric input was 13% in survey one. By survey two, this had risen to 47%.
Delirium is often undetected and untreated in nursing homes. Residents presenting with psychiatric symptoms should undergo routine bloods and urinalysis prior to psychiatric referral. Dedicated input from trained psychiatric nursing staff can lead to both an improvement in the recognition of delirium and reduced prescribing rates of antipsychotic medication.
On July 6, 2017, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (the Court or ICC)—composed of Judges Tarfusser, Perrin de Brichambaut, and Chung—held that South Africa violated the Rome Statute of the ICC (Rome Statute) by failing to arrest and surrender to the Court President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan when he visited the country in June 2015. However, the Court did not refer the matter to the ICC Assembly of States Parties (ASP) or the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) pursuant to Article 87(7) of the Rome Statute. The decision added South Africa to a list of ICC state parties that have failed in their Rome Statute obligations with respect to the incumbent head of state of Sudan. It also marked the first time that the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), all ICC states parties, and the United Nations (UN) were invited to present their views and argue fully what is perhaps the most legally contentious and politically sensitive issue that the ICC has faced in its history.
Primary care faces unprecedented challenges. A move towards a more comprehensive, multi-disciplinary service delivery model has been proposed as a means with which to secure more sustainable services for the future. One seemingly promising response has been the implementation of physiotherapy self-referral schemes, however there is a significant gap in the literature regarding implementation.
This evaluation aimed to explore how the professionals and practice staff involved in the delivery of an in-practice physiotherapy self-referral scheme understood the service, with a focus on perceptions of value, barriers and impact.
Design and setting
A qualitative evaluation was conducted across two UK city centre practices that had elected to participate in a pilot self-referral scheme offering ‘physiotherapy-as-a-first-point-of-contact’ for patients presenting with a musculoskeletal complaint.
Individual and focus group interviews were conducted amongst participating physiotherapists, administration/reception staff, general practitioners (GPs) and one practice nurse (in their capacity as practice partner). Interview data were collected from a total of 14 individuals. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Three key themes were highlighted by this evaluation. First, the imperative of effecting a cultural change – including management of patient expectation with particular reference to the belief that GPs represented the ‘legitimate choice’, re-visioning contemporary primary care as a genuine team approach, and the physiotherapists’ reconceptualisation of their role and practices. Second, the impact of the service on working practice across all stakeholders – specifically re-distribution of work to ‘unburden’ the GP, and the critical role of administration staff. Finally, beliefs regarding the nature and benefits of physiotherapeutic musculoskeletal expertise – fears regarding physiotherapists’ ability to work autonomously or identify ‘red flags’ were unfounded.
This qualitative evaluation draws on the themes to propose five key lessons which may be significant in predicting the success of implementing physiotherapy self-referral schemes.
Following two decades of armed conflict in Liberia, over 95% of health care facilities were partially or completely destroyed. Although the Liberian health system has undergone significant rehabilitation, one particular weakness is the lack of organized systems for referral and prehospital care. Acute care referral systems are a critical component of effective health care delivery and have led to improved quality of care and patient outcomes.
This study aimed to characterize the referral and transfer systems in the largest county of Liberia.
A cross-sectional, health referral survey of a representative sample of health facilities in Montserrado County, Liberia was performed. A systematic random sample of all primary health care (PHC) clinics, fraction proportional to district population size, and all secondary and tertiary health facilities were included in the study sample. Collected data included baseline information about the health facility, patient flow, and qualitative and quantitative data regarding referral practices.
A total of 62 health facilities—41 PHC clinics, 11 health centers (HCs), and 10 referral hospitals (RHs)—were surveyed during the 6-week study period. In sum, three percent of patients were referred to a higher-level of care. Communication between health facilities was largely unsystematic, with lack of specific protocols (n=3; 5.0%) and standardized documentation (n=26; 44.0%) for referral. While most health facilities reported walking as the primary means by which patients presented to initial health facilities (n=50; 81.0%), private vehicles, including commercial taxis (n=37; 60.0%), were the primary transport mechanism for referral of patients between health facilities.
This study identified several weaknesses in acute care referral systems in Liberia, including lack of systematic care protocols for transfer, documentation, communication, and transport. However, several informal, well-functioning mechanisms for referral exist and could serve as the basis for a more robust system. Well-integrated acute care referral systems in low-income countries, like Liberia, may help to mitigate future public health crises by augmenting a country’s capacity for emergency preparedness.
KimJ, BarreixM, BabcockC, BillsCB. Acute Care Referral Systems in Liberia: Transfer and Referral Capabilities in a Low-Income Country. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2017;32(6):642–650.