"In our study, less than 10 percent of patients had even been referred to palliative care," said Constantine Karvellas, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Alberta. "We need to be better about ensuring quality of life for these patients."
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious, often terminal, illnesses. Its goal is to improve patients' quality of life by concentrating on relief from symptoms, pain and stress.
The patients in Dr. Karvellas's study had been de-listed or declined for liver transplantation. The most common reason was noncompliance with restrictions on substance use, but other reasons related to cancer and multiple organ dysfunction. Researchers examined patients' medical trajectory and the symptoms prominent at their end of life and found that more than half had pain and nausea. Others had symptoms of depression, anxiety, breathlessness and anorexia. Eighty percent required repeat hospital admissions and invasive procedures such as paracentesis, in which fluid accumulation is drained from the abdomen.
"Palliative care offers a way to avoid some of these costly procedures and at the same time improve the quality of life for these patients. These data help to start the conversation on how we can make a positive difference in the lives of many patients and families," Dr. Karvellas said.
|Contact: Aimee Frank|
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