Best of the Web - Palliative Care Grand Rounds Coming Soon
We need your help. GeriPal will be hosting the July 2010 installment of Palliative Care Grand Rounds. For those of you who don’t know, Palliative Care Grand Rounds is a monthly blog series highlighting some of the best and most interesting blog posts related to palliative care, hospice (and in our case - geriatrics too!). If you find anything out there in the blogosphere that you think is worth passing on, please add it to the comment section below this post with the name of the website and the link (add a description if you’d like, but that’s optional). Last day to submit will be the 4th of July.
If you want to see a great example of palliative care grand rounds, check out this month’s edition at Bedside Manner.
There is a terrific article in this weeks Journal of Pain and Symptom Management by Fliss Murtagh of King's College in London about the epidemiology of symptoms for patients with advanced renal failure who die without dialysis. This study is important because while we know that patients with advanced renal failure have a limited life expectancy and the average age of initiation of hemodialysis is increasing, we know little about the alternatives to hemodialysis. Specifically, we know nothing about symptoms affecting quality of life among patients who elect not to start dialysis (so called "conservative management" - is this the best label?). This article provides a terrific counterpoint to the article in last years NEJM showing that nursing home residents who initiated hemodialysis tended to die and decline in function (see GeriPal write up here).
The study authors followed patients with the most advanced form of chronic kidney disease (the new name for renal failu…
The dangers of oral sodium phosphate preparations are fairly well known in the medical community. In 2006 the FDA issued it’s first warning that patients taking oral sodium phosphate preparations are at risk for potential for acute kidney injury. Two years later, over-the-counter preparations of these drugs were voluntarily withdrawn by the manufacturers. Those agents still available by prescription were given black box warnings mainly due to acute phosphate nephropathy that can result in renal failure, especially in older adults. Despite all this talk of oral preparations, little was mentioned about a sodium phosphate preparation that is still available over-the-counter – the Fleet enema.
Why Oral Sodium Phosphate Preparations Are Dangerous
Before we go into the risks of Fleet enemas, lets spend just a couple sentences on why oral sodium phosphate preparations carry significant risks. First, oral sodium phosphate preparations can cause significant fluid shifts within the colon …
There is broad consensus in the medical community that lying to patients is unethical. However, in the care of patients with dementia, the moral clarity of this approach blurs. In her recent New Yorker article, “The Memory House,” Larissa MacFarquhar provides an excellent portrait of the common devices of artifice, omission and outright deception that are frequently deployed in the care of patients with dementia. She furthermore explores the historical and ethical underpinnings of the various approaches used in disclosing (or not) information to patients living with dementia.
Ms. MacFarquhar introduces the idea of “compassionate deception,” or the concept that withholding truths, or even promoting outright falsehoods, is a reasonable and even ethical choice for those caring for patients with dementia. To the extent that it helps a person with dementia feel happier and calmer, allowing them to believe in a gentler reality (one in which, say, their spo…