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Collusion is a largely unconscious, dynamic bond, which may occur between patients and clinicians, between patients and family members, or between different health professionals. It is widely prevalent in the palliative care setting and provokes intense emotions, unreflective behavior, and negative impact on care. However, research on collusion is limited due to a lack of conceptual clarity and robust instruments to investigate this complex phenomenon. We have therefore developed the Collusion Classification Grid (CCG), which we aimed to evaluate with regard to its potential utility to analyze instances of collusion, be it for the purpose of supervision in the clinical setting or research.
Situations of difficult interactions with patients with advanced disease (N = 10), presented by clinicians in supervision with a liaison psychiatrist were retrospectively analyzed by means of the CCG.
1) All items constituting the grid were mobilized at least once; 2) one new item had to be added; and 3) the CCG identified different types of collusion.
Significance of results
This case series of collusions assessed with the CCG is a first step before the investigation of larger samples with the CCG. Such studies could search and identify setting-dependent and recurrent types of collusions, and patterns emerging between the items of the CCG. A better grasp of collusion could ultimately lead to a better understanding of the impact of collusion on the patient encounter and clinical decision-making.
Continuous deep sedation (CDS) is a way to reduce conscious experience of symptoms of severe suffering in terminally ill cancer patients. However, there is wide variation in the frequency of its reported. So we conducted a retrospective analysis to assess the prevalence and features of CDS in our palliative care unit (PCU).
We performed a systemic retrospective analysis of the medical and nursing records of all 1581 cancer patients who died at the PCU at Higashi Sapporo Hospital between April 2005 and August 2011. Continuous deep sedation can only be administered safely and appropriately when a multidisciplinary team is involved in the decision-making process. Prior to administration of CDS, a multidisciplinary team conference (MDTC) was held with respect to all the patients considered for CDS by an attending physician. The main outcome measures were the frequency and characteristics of CDS (patient background, all target symptoms, medications used for sedation, duration, family's satisfaction, and distress). We mailed anonymous questionnaires to bereaved families in August 2011.
Of 1581 deceased patients, 22 (1.39%) had received CDS. Physical exhaustion 8 (36.4%), dyspnea 7 (31.8%), and pain 5 (22.7%) were the most frequently mentioned indications. Continuous deep sedation had a duration of less than 1 week in 17 (77.3%). Six patients (0.38%) did not meet the appropriate criteria for CDS according to the MDTC and so did not receive it. Although bereaved families were generally comfortable with the practice of CDS, some expressed a high level of emotional distress.
Significance of results:
Our results indicate that the prevalence of CDS will be decreased when it is carried out solely for appropriate indications. Continuity of teamwork, good coordination, exchange of information, and communication between the various care providers are essential. A lack of any of these may lead to inadequate assessment, information discrepancies, and unrest.
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