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Int J Qual Health Care. 2016 Sep;28(4):456-69. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzw060. Epub 2016 Jun 27.

Non-beneficial treatments in hospital at the end of life: a systematic review on extent of the problem.

Author information

1
The Simpson Centre for Health Services Research, SWS Clinical School and the Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, The University of New South Wales, PO Box 6087 UNSW, Sydney NSW 1466, Australia.
2
School of Medicine, Ground floor, 30, Western Sydney University, Narellan Road & Gilchrist Drive, Campbelltown NSW 2560, Australia.
3
School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Level 2, Samuels Building, Samuels Ave, The University of New South Wales, Kensington NSW 2033, Australia.
4
Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Hospital Ave, Nedlands, Perth WA 6009, Australia.
5
Intensive Care Unit, Building 12, Level 3, Canberra Hospital, Yamba Drive, Garran, Canberra, ACT 2605, Australia.
6
The Simpson Centre for Health Services Research, SWS Clinical School and the Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, The University of New South Wales, PO Box 6087 UNSW, Sydney NSW 1466, Australia Intensive Care Unit, Level 2, Liverpool Hospital, Elizabeth St & Goulburn St, Liverpool NSW 2170, Australia.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To investigate the extent of objective 'non-beneficial treatments (NBTs)' (too much) anytime in the last 6 months of life in routine hospital care.

DATA SOURCES:

English language publications in Medline, EMBASE, PubMed, Cochrane library, and the grey literature (January 1995-April 2015).

STUDY SELECTION:

All study types assessing objective dimensions of non-beneficial medical or surgical diagnostic, therapeutic or non-palliative procedures administered to older adults at the end of life (EOL).

DATA EXTRACTION:

A 13-item quality score estimated independently by two authors.

RESULTS OF DATA SYNTHESIS:

Evidence from 38 studies indicates that on average 33-38% of patients near the EOL received NBTs. Mean prevalence of resuscitation attempts for advanced stage patients was 28% (range 11-90%). Mean death in intensive care unit (ICU) was 42% (range 11-90%); and mean death rate in a hospital ward was 44.5% (range 29-60%). Mean prevalence of active measures including dialysis, radiotherapy, transfusions and life support treatment to terminal patient was 7-77% (mean 30%). Non-beneficial administration of antibiotics, cardiovascular, digestive and endocrine treatments to dying patients occurred in 11-75% (mean 38%). Non-beneficial tests were performed on 33-50% of patients with do-not-resuscitate orders. From meta-analyses, the pooled prevalence of non-beneficial ICU admission was 10% (95% CI 0-33%); for chemotherapy in the last six weeks of life was 33% (95% CI 24-41%).

CONCLUSION:

This review has confirmed widespread use of NBTs at the EOL in acute hospitals. While a certain level of NBT is inevitable, its extent, variation and justification need further scrutiny.

KEYWORDS:

end of life; hospital care; inappropriate; non-beneficial; patient safety; systematic review

PMID:
27353273
DOI:
10.1093/intqhc/mzw060
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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