Quality of end-of-life treatment for cancer patients in general wards and the palliative care unit at a regional cancer center in Japan: A retrospective chart review

Kazuki Sato, Mitsunori Miyashita, Tatsuya Morita, Makiko Sanjo, Yasuo Shima, Yosuke Uchitomi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Goals: In Japan, most cancer patients die in the hospital. The aim of this study was to assess the quality of end-of-life treatment for dying cancer patients in general wards and palliative care unit (PCU). Materials and methods: A retrospective chart review study was conducted. The following data on cancer patients who died in general wards (N=104) and PCU (N=201) at a regional cancer center were collected: do-not-resuscitate (DNR) decisions, treatments in the last 48 h of life, and aggressiveness of cancer care for dying patients. Main results: DNR orders were documented for most patients (94% in general wards, 98% in PCU, p=0.067) and families usually consented (97%, 97%, p=0.307). Comparison of general wards with PCU showed that, in the last 48 h of life, significantly more patients in general wards received life-sustaining treatment (resuscitation, 3.8%, 0%, p=0.001; mechanical ventilation, 4.8%, 0%, p=0.004), large volume hydration (>1,000 ml/day, 67%, 10%, p<0.001) with continuous administration (83%, 5%, p=0.002) and fewer palliative care drugs (strong opioids, 68%, 92%, p<0.001; corticosteroids, 49%, 70%, p<0.001; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, 34%, 85%, p<0.001). Regarding aggressiveness of cancer care, patients received a new chemotherapy regimen within 30 days of death (3.0%), chemotherapy within 14 days of death (4.3%), and intensive care unit admission in the last month of life (3.3%). Conclusion: We found that families, not patients, consented to DNR, and life-sustaining treatments were appropriately withheld; however, patients on general wards received excessive hydration, and the use of palliative care drugs could be improved. Application of our findings can be used to improve clinical care in general wards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-122
Number of pages10
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Feb 1

Keywords

  • Decision making
  • Japan
  • Neoplasm
  • Palliative care
  • Quality of health care
  • Retrospective study
  • Terminal care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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