Hospital end-of-life care in haematological malignancies

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ObjectiveTo investigate patterns of care during the last months of life of hospitalised patients who died from different haematological malignancies.MethodsNationwide register-based study, including all hospitalised adults ≥20 years who died from haematological malignancies in France in 2010–2013. Outcomes included use of invasive cancer treatments and referral to palliative care. Percentages are adjusted for sex and age using direct standardisation.ResultsOf 46 629 inpatients who died with haematological malignancies, 24.5% received chemotherapy during the last month before death, 48.5% received blood transfusion, 12.3% were under invasive ventilation and 18.1% died in intensive care units. We found important variations between haematological malignancies. The use of chemotherapy during the last month of life varied from 8.6% among patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia up to 30.1% among those with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (P<0.001). Invasive ventilation was used in 10.2% of patients with acute leukaemia but in 19.0% of patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma (P<0.001). Palliative status was reported 30 days before death in only 14.8% of patients, and at time of death in 46.9% of cases. Overall, 5.5% of haematology patients died in palliative care units.ConclusionA high proportion of patients who died from haematological malignancies receive specific treatments near the end of life. There is a need for a better and earlier integration of the palliative care approach in the standard practice of haematology. However, substantial variation according to the type of haematological malignancy suggests that the patients should not be considered as one homogeneous group. Implementation of palliative care should account for differences across haematological malignancies.

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