Use of the proportion of patients dying on an End of Life Pathway as a quality marker: considerations for interpretation

Edwin J. Pugh, Mel Mcevoy, John Blenkinsopp

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Abstract

The Department of Health as part of its End of Life Care Strategy has developed a set of markers as a quality of care proxy for adults at the end of life. 1 “The number / proportion of patients dying with the Liverpool Care Pathway (or
equivalent) in place” is suggested as a quality metric for all care providers. 1 A retrospective audit of uptake of use of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) in an NHS Hospital in the North of England showed that 39% of all patients who died had been placed on the LCP. Overall 58% of patients who died were judged to meet the criteria for LCP use. This represented 81% of patients dying with cancer as a primary cause compared to 51% of patients dying with non-cancer. This difference was statistically very significant. In the Trust under study, 67% of dying patients who fulfilled the LCP criteria were placed on the pathway. The results of this study suggest that a simple percentage of deaths on the pathway is an unsophisticated
statistic which needs to be interpreted with care. In particular it will be influenced by the proportion of people dying with cancer or non cancer. This should be considered particularly when presenting the results to the public and to healthcare stakeholders or when making comparisons between provider organisations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-547
JournalPalliative Medicine
Volume24
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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