Is there a need for weekend face-to-face inpatient assessments by hospital specialist palliative care services? Evaluation of an out-of-hours service.

Link to article at PubMed

Is there a need for weekend face-to-face inpatient assessments by hospital specialist palliative care services? Evaluation of an out-of-hours service.

Palliat Med. 2011 Apr;25(3):278-83

Authors: Birks T, Krikos D, McGowan C, Stone P

Abstract
There is an increasing demand for hospital specialist palliative care services to be made more accessible outside of normal working hours. However, it has been argued that extended service provision could be misused and that specialist telephone advisory services are an adequate response to this demand. A 'routine' Saturday face-to-face visiting service was introduced into a hospital palliative care team and the service was evaluated to determine whether it was being utilised appropriately. A retrospective notes review of out-of-hours assessments was undertaken. Anonymised data relating to the nature of the interaction with the palliative care team and the outcome of the consultation were entered into an electronic database. A random sample of routine weekday interactions was also evaluated. A total of 336 Saturday and 93 weekday assessments were analysed. Most of the Saturday assessments resulted in a significant change in management (57%) or were undertaken on patients close to death (10%). There were 39/336 (12%) new referrals assessed on Saturdays. There were few differences between the nature of the Saturday and the weekday service and no evidence of 'inappropriate' referrals. We found clear evidence of the need for a specialist out-of-hours face-to-face inpatient visiting service for hospital palliative care.

PMID: 21349993 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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