Research funded by Marie Curie has revealed that a simple method, routinely used by clinicians to identify patients who may be approaching their last year of life, is frequently inaccurate.
The study, conducted by researchers at The Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department at University College London (UCL), looked at 25,718 predictions made by clinicians using the “Surprise Question” over a ten-year period.
The findings reveal that the accuracy of predictions varied considerably, with clinicians tending to over-predict the number of people whom they thought would die. Over half (54%) of those predicted to die within a specified time period, lived longer than expected.
Commenting in response, Claire Henry, MBE, Director of Improvement and Transformation, at national hospice care charity Hospice UK, said:
“The findings of this survey highlight that the “Surprise Question” for clinicians should not be used in isolation but alongside a range of other clinical assessment tools to determine when someone needs palliative care.
“It also shows the importance of considering patients’ individual needs, rather than relying purely on prognosis, and the need for good communication between patients and clinicians and honest conversations between them about palliative care early on.
“We hope this research will lead to significant improvements in identifying patients approaching their last year of life so that more people are able to get the support they need and also help ensure better targeted care.”
Notes to Editor:
- Hospice UK is the national charity for hospice care and the only membership body for organisations providing hospice care. We support and champion the work of more than 200 of these organisations across the UK.
- Hospices, and other organisations which provide hospice care, offer vital care for people with terminal or life-limiting conditions and also support their families and carers.
- For further information about hospice care visit our website www.hospiceuk.org or follow us on Twitter @hospiceukPA.
- Get all the latest news from the hospice and palliative care sector, as well as patient stories, on ehospice UK at: www.ehospice.com/uk This service is managed by Hospice UK. You can also follow ehospice news on Twitter at @ehospicenews
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