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Int J Emerg Med. 2015 Apr 29;8:14. doi: 10.1186/s12245-015-0061-8. eCollection 2015.

Managing the advanced cancer patient in the Australian emergency department environment: findings from a national survey of emergency department clinicians.

Author information

1
Emergency Practice Innovation Centre, St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, Victoria Parade, Fitzroy 3065 Australia ; Department of Medicine, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, 3052 Australia.
2
Centre for Palliative Care, The University of Melbourne (St Vincent's Hospital), Fitzroy, 3065 Australia ; St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, Fitzroy, 3065 Australia.
3
Emergency Practice Innovation Centre, St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, Victoria Parade, Fitzroy 3065 Australia ; Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
4
St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, Fitzroy, 3065 Australia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Delivery of care to people with advanced cancer in the emergency department (ED) is complicated by competing service demands, workloads and physical design constraints. We explored emergency clinicians' attitudes to the ED environment when caring for patients who present with advanced cancer, and how these attitudes are affected by access to palliative care services, palliative care education, staff type, ED experience and patient demographic, hospital type and region.

METHODS:

We electronically surveyed clinicians from the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia, Australian College of Emergency Nursing and Australasian College for Emergency Medicine working in an Australian ED.

RESULTS:

Respondents were 444 doctors and 237 nurses. They reported overcrowding, noise, lack of time and privacy as barriers to care. Most (93.3%) agreed/strongly agreed that the dying patient should be allocated private space in ED. 73.6% (451) felt unable to provide a desired level of care to advanced cancer patients in ED. Clinician attitudes were affected by staff type, experience, ED demographic and hospital type, but not education in palliative care.

CONCLUSIONS:

ED environments place pressure on clinicians delivering care to people with advanced cancer. Integrating palliative care services in ED and redesigning EDs to better match its multifaceted functions should be considered.

KEYWORDS:

Cancer; Emergency medicine; End-of-life care; Palliative care; Survey

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