Background Palliative Care Registers (PCRs) were introduced in 2006 by the Gold Standards Framework1 (GSF) to aid General Practitioners in identifying patients nearing the end of life. Their use was supported and recommended by NICE, RCGP and the NHS End of Life Programme. Particular attention was given to non-cancer diagnoses such as heart failure.
Objective Identify the proportion of older patients seen in a secondary care heart failure service who are on their General Practitioner's PCR at the time of their death. Method: Consecutive patients with echocardiogram-proven left ventricular systolic dysfunction referred to a secondary care older heart failure service between July 2001 and July 2007 and on optimal treatment were included. Electronic records were used to identify those deceased by June 2010. GP practices were contacted enquiring if a PCR was being used by the practice at the time of their patient's death and if the patient was on the register. A concurrent audit of patients referred to specialist palliative care services between January 2010 and 2011 was also carried out. The number of those patients added to the palliative care register was reviewed.
Results GP palliative care registers were in use at the time of death of 160 patients eligible for the study (80%). 26 of these were on the palliative care register (16.25%). In the additional audit, 23 patients were referred to specialist palliative care services. Of these, 15 (65%) were on the GP palliative care register.
Conclusion and Aims Too few patients with heart failure are being included on their GP Palliative Care register though this number does increase in those referred to specialist palliative care services. A method for greater recognition and education regarding these patients needs to be put in place to ensure they are identified to receive the input they require.
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