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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2006 Aug;32(2):168-74.

Monitoring symptoms in patients with advanced illness in long-term care: A pilot study.

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  • 1Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center, New York, New York 10029, USA.


The Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) was administered daily by nursing staff in a long-term care facility (LTCF) to monitor symptoms. Scores greater than or equal to 5 on a 0-10 scale were considered moderate-to-severe and triggered prompt treatment. One hundred and eight patients with advanced illness and perceived prognosis of less than 6 months were identified for rapid symptom management over a 7-month period. Forty-six (43%) of these patients had at least one episode of moderate-to-severe symptoms during the follow-up period. Thirty-one of these patients (67%) had a primary diagnosis of advanced AIDS and 12 (26%) had advanced cancer. Pain was the most frequent of the 15 symptoms measured, occurring in 29 patients. In the case of pain (P = 0.001), tiredness (P = 0.004), and well-being (P = 0.003), rapid symptom management led to significantly improved distress scores within 48 hours. These data suggest that it is feasible for nurses in an LTCF to use the ESAS on a daily basis to assess patients and obtain prompt treatment for distressful symptoms. Rapid treatment of symptoms can be an important quality indicator in nursing home patients with advanced illness.

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