According to a study published in the Cancer journal, one of the publications of the American Cancer Society, and carried out in Germany, “many patients hospitalised in oncology centres are not dying with dignity“.
In order to carry out this study Karin Jors, scientist at the Freiburg University Medical Centre (Germany) and her colleagues carried out a survey amongst doctors and nurses practising across 16 hospitals belonging to 10 oncology centres in Baden-Württemberg.
The criteria were as follows: quality of end-of-life care, patients’ accommodation (rooms), medical training of carers and communication with the medical team. Out of “1,131 who responded, only 57% believed that patients died with dignity in their establishment“. Furthermore, “half of the members of staff interviewed admitted that they rarely had enough time to tend to the dying” and “55% of them found that the rooms available for the terminally ill were not satisfactory“. As regards training, the study showed that out of the 6% of doctors who took part in the survey, only “19% of those who responded believed that they were well trained to manage the terminally ill“.
Following the publication of this study, Karin Jors went on to say: “In our ageing society, the number of deaths in hospital will continue to rise in the years to come and many of these deaths will be due to cancer. Therefore, it is particularly important that oncology centres make an effort to create a comfortable and dignified environment for the terminally ill and their families“. She added that: “Above all, members of staff must be given adequate resources to take care of these patients“.
Thus the scientists believe that palliative care should be incorporated in standard cancer care courses during medical studies. Moreover, standards for end-of-life treatment must be drawn up and “a full palliative care programme for medical staff within health establishments” must be implemented. Last but not least, more research should be carried out in this area.