Palliative Care and Stroke

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Palliative Care and Stroke
Joan McCormack
Clinical Nurse Specialist – Stroke
22 September 2011
Topics
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Stroke.
Palliative Care Needs of Stroke Patients.
Nutrition in Severe Stroke Patients.
Withdrawal of Treatment.
Questions.
Stroke
A stroke is a condition where a blood clot or a
ruptured blood vessel interrupts blood flow to an
area of the brain.
A lack of oxygen and glucose flowing to the brain
leads to the death of brain cells and brain
damage.
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The outcome after a stroke depends on
where the stroke occurs and how much of
the brain is affected.
Smaller strokes may result in minor
problems, such as weakness in an arm or
leg.
Larger strokes may lead to paralysis or
death.
STROKE FACTS
10,000 people in Ireland are admitted to hospital with
stroke each year.
Stroke is the third most common cause of death and
the most common cause of acquired physical
disability in Ireland.
Stroke kills more than 2,000 people a year in Ireland –
a higher death toll than from breast cancer, lung
cancer and bowel cancer combined.
Nearly one in three people will die within the first year
after a stroke. Of those surviving, around 65 per cent
will make a reasonable recovery.
BEAUMONT HOSPITAL
June 2010 – June 2011
281 patients admitted with Stroke.
59 (21%) patients died.
• 11 died within 3 days
• 35 within 28 days
• 13 after 28 days
June 2010 – December 2010
25 Died: 9 Referred to Palliative Care.
Poor prognostic indicators:
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Advanced age.
Severity of the stroke.
Elevated BP, Blood Glucose, Temperature.
Seizures.
Irish Heart Foundation:
Council for Stroke
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All staff who care for patients with life-limiting nonmalignant diseases including severe stroke, should work
in a collaborative manner so that the patients‘ care
needs are met in appropriate settings.
Acute stroke patients should have access to specialist
palliative care services as needed.
People with stroke who are dying and their families
should have care that is consistent with the principles
and philosophies of palliative care.
PALLIATIVE CARE
“an approach that improves the quality of life of
patients and their families facing the problems
associated with life-threatening illness, through
the prevention and relief of suffering by means
of early identification and impeccable
assessment and treatment of pain and other
problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual”
World Health Organisation
Firstly, no mention of the word “terminal”.
This suggests that palliative care has a
role where there is a risk of death but no
certainty that the patient will die.
Secondly, reference is made to the need for
early intervention.
WHAT ARE THE PALLIATIVE CARE
NEEDS OF STROKE PATIENTS?
WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY?
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The provision of palliative care to stroke
patients presents many challenges.
The needs of patients dying following a
stroke are poorly investigated.
The needs of stroke patients who die in
the acute phase are different to those
who’s death occurs at a later stage.
CHALLENGES
Firstly, defining the dying stage in patients
with stroke.
Identification of end of life care needs is
likely to run parallel with assessments of
the patient’s functional status.
Secondly, even when both medical and
nursing staff feel that a patient might have
palliative care needs, referral to a
specialist palliative care service can be
seen as inappropriate.
Thirdly, stroke is by definition a condition
that occurs suddenly often leaving the
patient with communication problems due
to decreased consciousness and speech
problems. Therefore, end of life decisions
are often made on behalf of the patient.
WHAT ARE THE PALLIATIVE CARE
NEEDS OF STROKE PATIENTS?
Dyspnoea or dyspnoea behaviours
81%
Pain or pain behaviours
69%
Mouth dryness
62%
Constipation
38%
Anxiety/sadness
26%
Delirium
14%
Sleep disorders
12%
Mazzocato et al (2010) The last days of dying stroke patients. European Journal of Neurology. 17 (73-77)
Dyspnoea or dyspnoea behaviours
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Wheezing
Laboured breathing
Noisy respiratory tract secretions (death rattle)
Tachypnoea
Use of accessory respiratory muscles
Pain and discomfort or pain and discomfort
behaviours.
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Pain score > 2. Headache, central post stroke pain, comorbidities e.g. arthritis.
Sad facial expressions.
Negative verbalisations.
Rubbing of the body.
NB – Risk of under recognition in non-verbal patients.
Depression and anxiety.
50% low mood, anxiety or confusion.
20% expressed “life is not worth living”.
High levels of post stroke depression – 30%
Payne et al (2008) Palliative Care Nursing. 2nd Ed. McGraw Hill, Maidenhead.
Communication regarding
prognosis.
Communication between patients, family members and professionals
was consistently highlighted as central to a positive experience of
stroke.
Accurate prognostication– uncertainty is inevitable.
Honesty and clarity of information is required even when prognosis is
bleak.
When there is a shift in focus from active intervention to supportive
care families want to be included in dialogue with professionals.
When to call in the Palliative Care
Service?
Symptom management.
Ethical dilemmas.
Communication.
NUTRITION IN SEVERE STROKE
Dysphagia.
B.H.S.S.T (Beaumont Hospital Swallow Screening Test).
Speech and Language Therapists.
Dietetics.
Of Note,
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Oral fluid and nutrition is part of core care
and should not be withdrawn unless the
patient refuses or is unable to participate.
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Clinically assisted nutrition and hydration
are considered medical treatments and
can be withheld or withdrawn if
considered to be of no benefit to the
patient.
How are decisions made?
Multidisciplinary context.
Involve the patient and family.
Have the patient’s best interests at the fore.
Patient’s wishes should be respected.
Capacity.
Consultant makes the decision.
Experience of hunger and thirst are
difficult to establish after a severe
stroke.
What are the risks of clinically
assisted nutrition and hydration?
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Tube displacement.
GI intolerance.
Reflux.
Increased secretions.
Aspiration pneumonia.
Pulmonary oedema
IV site infections.
Clear information reduces confusion
among multidisciplinary team
members and the family
CONSENSUS?
Call in the Palliative Care Service?
Time limited trial of clinically
assisted feeding?
Clinically assisted nutrition and hydration are
considered medical treatments and can be
withheld or withdrawn if considered not to
be of benefit to the patient.
Clear goals and objectives allow evaluation
and the potential to withdraw treatment if
the goals are not met.
Withdrawal of Treatment
Dynamic and evolving situation.
Discussion regarding futility of treatment.
Capacity.
Anxiety of family and staff regarding
withdrawing life-sustaining treatment.
Anxiety:
Complex issues must be understood and
documented.
Often easier to understand not starting
treatment as opposed to withdrawing it.
No fully accurate method of predicting
outcome after a severe stroke.
Decision with the Consultant.
Do Not Resuscitate.
Different to withdrawing medical support.
Should not influence treatment including
admission to stroke units.
Should not influence nursing care provided.
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