Is it recorded in the notes? Documentation of end-of-life care and preferred place to die discussions in the final weeks of life

BMC Palliat Care. 2011 Nov 4;10:18. doi: 10.1186/1472-684X-10-18.


Background: Over the past ten years there has been an increasing focus on the need for improving the experience of end of life care. A number of policy initiatives have been introduced to develop approaches to discussing and documenting individual preferences for end of life care, in particular preferred place to die.

Methods: The aim was to investigate practice in relation to discussing and documenting end of life care and preferred place to die in the last 4 weeks of life with patients and their families. The study utilised an audit of 65 case notes, alongside four group interviews with a mix of health care professionals involved in palliative care provision.

Results: While there was evidence that discussions relating to end of life care and preferred place to die had taken place in around half of the audited case notes, there appeared to be a lack of a systematic approach to the recording of discussions with patients or carers about these kind of issues. Health care staff subsequently highlighted that initiating discussions about end of life care and preferences in relation to place of death was challenging and that the recording and tracking of such preferences was problematic.

Conclusions: Further work is required to establish how information may be adequately recorded, revised and transferred across services to ensure that patients' preferences in relation to end of life care and place of death are, as far as possible, achieved.