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Palliat Med. 2001 Nov;15(6):451-60.

How many inpatients at an acute hospital have palliative care needs? Comparing the perspectives of medical and nursing staff.

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Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing, University of Sheffield, UK.


The primary aim of this prospective face-to-face interview survey was to identify the proportion of inpatients at an acute hospital (Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK) considered to have palliative care needs by medical and nursing staff directly responsible for their care. During the 1-week period of the survey (6-10 September 1999), 452 inpatients were present in the hospital. Nursing staff were interviewed for 99% of patients; medical staff for 81%. Staff interview data were supplemented by case note review. Overall, 23% of the total inpatient population were identified as having palliative care needs and/or being terminally ill by staff and 11% were considered suitable for referral to a specialist palliative care bed. However, there was a low level of concurrence between medical and nursing staff as to which individual patients had palliative care needs (although this increased with perceived increased proximity to death), including which would be suitable for referral to a specialist palliative care bed. A need for further palliative care education for medical and nursing staff working within acute hospital settings was identified to ensure that the best use is made of hospital-based specialist palliative care services.

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