Specialist palliative care and patients with noncancer diagnoses: the experience of a service.Palliat Med. 1999 Nov; 13(6):477-84.PM
This retrospective review was undertaken to identify the pattern of noncancer referrals to a specialist palliative care service, comprising a teaching hospital support team, home care, outpatients and inpatient hospice, over a 1-year period. Of 287 hospital ward referrals, 83 patients had a noncancer diagnosis (29%); they were referred predominantly for symptom control (92%), particularly of pain (84%). Of 130 outpatient referrals, 30 had a noncancer diagnosis (23%) and were also referred mainly for the management of pain (85%). Of 196 home care referrals, 18 had a noncancer diagnosis (9%); they tended to be referred for multiprofessional care of endstage disease. Of 421 hospice inpatient admissions, 17 were for patients with a noncancer diagnosis (4%) and were predominantly for respite care. These admissions accounted for 2% of occupied bed days. It is concluded that specialist palliative care skills are perceived to be transferable to patients with noncancer diagnoses. Resource implications focus on hospital and outpatient services, where shared care with medical teams is usual practice. Defining management goals at the outset is particularly important.