Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2021 Dec 10:10499091211057848. doi: 10.1177/10499091211057848. Online ahead of print.
Background: The decision to initiate antibiotics in hospice patients that are very near end-of-life is a complex ethical and stewardship decision. Antibiotics may be ordered to improve urinary tract infection-related symptoms, such as delirium. However, infection symptoms may be managed using antipsychotics, antipyretics, antispasmodics, and analgesics instead. Currently, there are no studies that compare symptom management between those who receive antibiotics and those who do not. Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted for patients admitted to a hospice inpatient unit. Charts were included if the patient was admitted for delirium and had a Palliative Performance Scale score ≤40%, the urine culture was positive for organism growth, and the patient died while in the HIU. Clinical and demographic data was collected. Medication use was tallied for the 5 days prior to the date of death. Results: Sixty-one charts met the inclusion criteria. Thirty-five patients received antibiotics (ABX+) and 26 did not (ABX-). There was no difference in any medication consumption between groups during the 5 days prior to death. The ABX+ group died 8.2 days after obtaining the urine sample vs 6 days (P =0.046). The ABX+ group had more documented urinary tract-specific infection symptoms (66% vs 38%, P =0.042). More than half of antibiotic courses were discontinued prematurely. Conclusion: The results of this study do not show a difference in overall medication consumption between groups, which suggests that antibiotics may not help improve terminal delirium symptoms in those with a suspected urinary tract infection at end-of-life.