Opioid Use Before Death Varies in Pediatric Cancer Patients

-- A. Agrawal, PhD

Monday, February 9, 2009

MONDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The percentage of hospitalized pediatric oncology patients receiving opioids during their last week of life varies substantially depending on the hospital, according to study findings released online Nov. 6 in advance of publication in Pediatric Blood and Cancer.

Andrea D. Orsey, M.D., from the Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford, Conn., and colleagues analyzed data on opioid prescription use during the last week of life in 1,466 hospitalized pediatric cancer patients (aged 24 years and younger) treated at 33 hospitals between 2001 and 2005.

The researchers found that 56 percent of patients received opioids every day during their last week of life, although this varied from 0 to 90.5 percent between hospitals. After adjusting for patient factors, 10.5 percent of the variation in daily opioids could be accounted for by hospital factors, the report indicates.

"Regardless of the precise reasons (and they most likely differ, one hospital to the next), the existence of substantial variation among hospitals in pediatric end-of-life care practices strongly suggest that interventions to alter these practices will be most effective if they are adapted to the specific social, cultural, technical and institutional configuration of each hospital," Orsey and colleagues conclude.

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Specialties Cardiology
Diabetes & Endocrinology
Internal Medicine
Family Practice

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