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Neuropalliative care in a tertiary-level hospital

Abstract

Objectives Palliative care in neurology is a recent specialty to improve the quality of life of patients with severe neurological diseases. This study aims to determine the frequency of neurological inpatients who had indication of palliative care, and evaluate the symptomatology, demographic profile, the need for supportive measures, advance directives for life and medical history of patients in a tertiary hospital in Brazil.

Methods This cross-sectional analytical study evaluated all patients admitted to the neurological semi-intensive care unit (ICU) at Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein with neurological conditions from February through August 2022. The Palliative Performance Scale (weight loss greater than 5% associated with body changes and a negative response to the question: ‘Would you be surprised if the patient died within 1 year?’) was used to indicate palliative care. Patients were divided into three groups: patients with palliative care needs (groupindication), patients without palliative care needs (groupwithout indication) and patients who received at least one assessment of a palliative care team (grouppalliative). Demographic data were analysed using the Χ2 test for qualitative and Kruskal-Wallis test for quantitative variables.

Results Of the 198 patients included in the study, 115 (58%) had palliative care needs. Only 6.9% received assessment by the palliative care team, and 9.56% had advance directives in their medical records. Patients in groupindication had a higher prevalence of symptoms, such as fatigue, depression, shortness of breath and lack of appetite, and required more supportive measures, such as oxygen therapy, enteral/parenteral nutrition, admissions at ICU and days in hospital.

Conclusion Despite the high demand for palliative care in neurology, few patients receive this treatment, resulting in decreased quality of care. Therefore, greater integration and discussion of palliative care in neurology are needed.

  • neurological conditions
  • terminal care
  • symptoms and symptom management
  • prognosis
  • chronic conditions
  • advance directives

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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