UK audit shows need for greater caution with chemotherapy in very sick patients

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 12 November 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2498
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

    Chemotherapy probably caused or hastened death in just over a quarter of patients with cancer who died within 30 days of receiving the treatment, a study by the UK National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) published this week has shown. The study calls for greater caution in prescribing chemotherapy for very sick patients.

    The study reviewed the quality of care provided to more than 600 patients who received systemic anticancer treatment at NHS and independent hospitals throughout the United Kingdom, apart from Scotland. It included all patients aged 16 and over who were treated with chemotherapy between 1 June and 31 July 2006 and who subsequently died between 1 June and 31 August that year.

    The inquiry’s coordinators collected information for patients who had died from consultants who managed their treatment and from consultants who cared for them at the time of death. As well as questionnaires the coordinators also requested copies of the patient’s case notes. All data were anonymised …

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