Emergencies in patients with advanced cancer followed at home.

Alessandra Casuccio, Claudio Adile, Sebastiano Mercadante, Giampiero Porzio, Alessandro Valle, Veruska Costanzo, Federica Aielli

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22 Citations (Scopus)


AbstractCONTEXT: Patients with advanced cancer stay at home for most of their time, and acute problems may occur during home care. Caregivers may call medical services for an emergency, which can result in patients being admitted to the hospital. No data exist on emergencies in patients followed by a home care team.OBJECTIVES: The aim of this multicenter prospective study was to assess the frequency, reasons for, and subsequent course of emergency calls for patients followed at home by a palliative care team.METHODS: A consecutive sample of patients admitted to home care programs was surveyed for a period of seven months. Epidemiological data, and characteristics of emergency calls and outcomes, as well as environmental situations were recorded.RESULTS: Six hundred eighty-nine patients were surveyed; 118 patients (17.1% of the total number of patients surveyed) made one emergency call, 23 made two calls, and four made three calls for a total number of 176 emergency calls. The mean age was 71 years (standard deviation [SD] 13), and the mean Karnofsky status the day before the emergency call was 38 (SD 14). The mean time from admission to the first emergency call was 38.4 days (SD 67), and the mean time from the first emergency call to death was 17.5 days (SD 41.5). No differences were found for age, diagnosis, gender, duration of assistance, and survival between patients making emergency calls and those who did not make a call during an emergency. Twenty-three patients were managed by phone, and 122 were visited at home for the emergency. Calls were prevalently recorded on weekdays and were primarily made by relatives. The most frequent reasons for calling were dyspnea, pain, delirium, and loss of consciousness. Calls were considered justified by home care physicians in most cases. The mean number of relatives present during the emergency home visit was 2.2 (SD 1.5). The intervention was mainly pharmacological and considered satisfactory in the majority of cases.CONCLUSION: Emergency calls are relatively frequent in patients followed at home by a palliative care team. Phone consultation or intervention at home may avoid inappropriate hospital admission.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-300
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Publication statusPublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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    Casuccio, A., Adile, C., Mercadante, S., Porzio, G., Valle, A., Costanzo, V., & Aielli, F. (2012). Emergencies in patients with advanced cancer followed at home. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 44, 295-300.