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Medical Practice

Survey of distressing symptoms in dying patients and their families in hospital and the response to a symptom control team

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 18 June 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:1715
  1. Josephine M Hockley,
  2. Robert Dunlop,
  3. Robert J Davies


    The care given to 26 dying patients, and their families, being nursed in a hospital where there was no specific terminal care facility was studied. These patients were dying from both malignant and non-malignant disease. Anorexia, sleeplessness, coated or infected mouths, pain, and pressure sores were seen in half of the patients. Fear about caring for the patient at home and lack of information were the problems most frequently identified by the relatives.

    As a result of this study a multidisciplinary team specialising in symptom control and supportive care has been established. On average half of the total number of patients dying from cancer in the hospital are supported by the team. The number of complaints from relatives of dying patients has been drastically reduced since the team was formed.

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