Care of dying adults in the last days of life 

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Abstract

Care of people in their last days of life should be based on compassion, respect and, wherever possible, on research evidence. Previously the Liverpool Care Pathway attempted to facilitate this but it was withdrawn after an independent government report found that its uncritical implementation could lead to poor care. This Concise Guideline overviews NICE Clinical Guideline (NG31), which addresses: recognising dying; communication and shared decision making; maintaining hydration; and pharmacological symptom control, including anticipatory prescribing. Doctors may need to change their attitudes to care of dying people and those important to them. Specific areas where practices will need to reflect the individualised approach to care are highlighted. Limitations of the guideline are discussed. Potential barriers to implementation include need for further training and 24/7 availability of specialist support to front-line clinicians.

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