BACKGROUND: A subset of critically ill patients have end-of-life (EOL) goals that are unclear. Rapid response teams (RRTs) may aid in the identification of these patients and the delivery of their EOL care.
OBJECTIVES: To characterize the impact of RRT discussion on EOL care, and to examine how a preprinted order (PPO) set for EOL care influenced EOL discussions and outcomes.
METHODS: A single-centre retrospective chart review of all RRT calls (January 2009 to December 2010) was performed. The effect of RRT EOL discussions and the effect of a hospital-wide PPO set on EOL care was examined. Charts were from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Critical Care Information Systemic database, and were interrogated by two reviewers.
RESULTS: In patients whose EOL status changed following RRT EOL discussion, there were fewer intensive care unit (ICU) transfers (8.4% versus 17%; P<0.001), decreased ICU length of stay (5.8 days versus 20 days; P=0.08), increased palliative care consultations (34% versus 5.3%; P<0.001) and an increased proportion who died within 24 h of consultation (25% versus 8.3%; P<0.001). More patients experienced a change in EOL status following the introduction of an EOL PPO, from 20% (before) to 31% (after) (P<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: A change in EOL status following RRT-led EOL discussion was associated with reduced ICU transfers and enhanced access to palliative care services. Further study is required to identify and deconstruct barriers impairing timely and appropriate EOL discussions.