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Use of a structured palliative care summary in patients with established cancer is associated with reduced hospital admissions by out-of-hours general practitioners in Grampian

Abstract

Objectives Palliative care summaries are used by general practices to provide structured anticipatory care information to those providing care during the out-of-hours period. We hypothesised that the availability of a palliative care summary for individuals with established cancer would influence emergency hospital admission during the out-of-hours period.

Methods Each consultation with Grampian Medical Emergency Department (GMED) is recorded on the ADASTRA software system and the nature of the consultation is Read coded. We retrospectively reviewed consultations between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2011 which had been coded as ‘neoplasm’ or ‘terminal care’. The availability of a palliative care summary on ADASTRA and admission status were recorded. χ2 Test of association was performed. Binary logistic regression was used for multivariate analysis exploring the effect of a palliative care summary on admission, while adjusting for important confounders.

Results 401 patients with established cancer were identified who had presented to GMED in 2011. 35.7% had a palliative care summary available on ADASTRA. Of the 401 contacts, 100 patients were admitted to hospital. Not having a palliative care summary made admission significantly more likely; χ2=12.480, p=0.001. (OR 2.425, 95% CI 1.412 to 4.165).

Conclusions Availability of a structured palliative care plan can aid decision making in the out-of-hours period and prevent unplanned hospital admissions.

  • Cancer
  • Supportive care
  • Home care
  • Received 20 September 2012.
  • Revision received 14 November 2012.
  • Accepted 20 November 2012.

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