Timing and Outcome of Referral to the First Stand-Alone Palliative Care Center in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, the Palliative Care Center of Kuwait

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Abstract

Background:

Compared to other regions of the world, palliative care (PC) in the Eastern Mediterranean region is at an earlier stage of development. The Palliative Care Center of Kuwait (PCC-K) was established a few years ago as the first stand-alone PC center in the region. This study was conducted to investigate the timing of referral to the PCC-K and its outcome.

Methods:

Retrospective review of referrals to the PCC-K during its first 3 years of action. Late referral was defined as referral during the last 30 days of life.

Results:

During the 3-year period, 498 patients with cancer were referred to the PCC-K of whom 467 were eligible for analysis. Referral was considered late in 58% of patients. Nononcology facilities were more likely to refer patients late when compared to oncology facilities (P = .033). The palliative performance scale (PPS) was ≤30 in 59% of late referrals and 21% in earlier referrals (P < .001). Among 467 referred patients, 342 (73%) were eligible for transfer to the PCC-K, 102 (22%) were ineligible, and 23 (5%) died before assessment by the PCC-K consultation team. From the 342 eligible patients, the family caregivers refused the transfer of 64 (19%) patients to the PCC-K.

Conclusion:

Patients are frequently referred late to the PCC-K. Further research to identify barriers to PC and its early integration in Kuwait is required. The PPS may be useful in identifying late referrals.

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