Nurses’ experiences of pain management for people with advanced dementia approaching the end of life

Pain management in end-stage dementia is a fundamental aspect of end-of-life care; however, it is unclear what challenges and facilitators nurses experience in practice, whether these differ across care settings, and whether training needs to be tailored to the context of care | Journal of Clinical Nursing


Aims and objectives: To explore hospice, acute care and nursing home nurses’ experiences of pain management for people with advanced dementia in the final month of life. To identify the challenges, facilitators and practice areas requiring further support.


Conclusions: Achieving pain management in practice was highly challenging. A number of barriers were identified; however, the manner and extent to which these impacted on nurses differed across hospice, nursing home and acute care settings. Needs-based training to support and promote practice development in pain management in end-stage dementia is required.

Relevance to clinical practice: Nurses considered pain management fundamental to end-of-life care provision; however, nurses working in acute care and nursing home settings may be undersupported and under-resourced to adequately manage pain in people dying with advanced dementia. Nurse-to-nurse mentoring and ongoing needs-assessed interactive case-based learning could help promote practice development in this area. Nurses require continuing professional development in pharmacology.

Full reference: De Witt Jansen, B. et al. Nurses’ experiences of pain management for people with advanced dementia approaching the end of life: a qualitative study. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 26,(9-10) pp. 1234–1244

Improving communication during anaesthesia care transition in the operating room

Jullia, Marion et al. Training in intraoperative handover and display of a checklist improve communication during transfer of care: An interventional cohort study of anaesthesia residents and nurse anaesthetists. European Journal of Anaesthesiology: July 2017 – Volume 34 – Issue 7 – p 471–476

BACKGROUND: Handovers during anaesthesia are common, and failures in communication may lead to morbidity and mortality.

OBJECTIVES: We hypothesised that intraoperative handover training and display of a checklist would improve communication during anaesthesia care transition in the operating room.

DESIGN: Interventional cohort study.

SETTING: Single-centre tertiary care university hospital.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 204 random observations of handovers between anaesthesia providers (residents and nurse anaesthetists) over a 6-month period in 2016.

INTERVENTION: Two geographically different hospital sites were studied simultaneously (same observations, but no training/checklist at the control site): first a 2-week ‘baseline’ observation period; then handover training and display of checklists in each operating room (at the intervention site only) followed by an ‘immediate’ second and finally a third (3 months later) observation period.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: A 22-item checklist was created by a modified DELPHI method and a checklist score calculated for each handover by adding the individual scores for each item as follows: −1, if error in communicating item; 0, unreported item; 0.5, if partly communicated item; 1, if correctly communicated item.

RESULTS: Before training and display of the checklist, the scores in the interventional and the control groups were similar. There was no improvement in the control group’s scores over the three observation periods. In the interventional group, the mean (95% confidence interval) score increased by 43% [baseline 7.6 (6.7 to 8.4) n = 42; ‘immediate’ 10.9 (9.4 to 12.4) n = 27, P < 0.001]. This improvement persisted at 3 months without an increase in the mean duration of handovers.

CONCLUSION: Intraoperative handover training and display of a checklist in the operating room improved the checklist score for intraoperative transfer of care in anaesthesia.

Full article available at European Journal of Anaesthesiology

Measuring and Improving the Quality of Preprocedural Assessments

Preprocedural assessments are used by anesthesia providers to optimize perioperative care for patients undergoing invasive procedures | Anesthesia & Analgesia


When these assessments are performed in advance by providers who are not caring for the patient during the procedure, there is an additional layer of complexity in ensuring that the workup meets the needs of the primary anesthesia care team. In this study, anesthesia providers were asked to rate the quality of preprocedural assessments prepared by other providers to evaluate anesthesia care team

The overwhelming majority of preprocedural assessments performed at our institution were considered satisfactory or exemplary by day-of-surgery anesthesia providers. This was demonstrated by both the case-by-case ratings and midpoint survey. However, the perceived frequency of “unsatisfactory” evaluations was worse when providers were asked to reflect on the quality of preprocedural evaluations generally versus rate them individually. Analysis of comments left by providers allowed us to identify specific and actionable areas for improvement. This method can be used by other institutions to identify systemic deficiencies in the preprocedural evaluation process.

Full reference: Manji, F. et al. (2017) Measuring and Improving the Quality of Preprocedural Assessments. Anesthesia & Analgesia. 124(6 ) pp. 1846–1854

Choice of Anesthesia for Cesarean Delivery

Neuraxial anesthesia use in cesarean deliveries (CDs) has been rising since the 1980s, whereas general anesthesia (GA) use has been declining | Anesthesia & Analgesia

In this brief report we analyzed recent obstetric anesthesia practice patterns using National Anesthesiology Clinical Outcomes Registry data. Approximately 218,285 CD cases were identified between 2010 and 2015. GA was used in 5.8% of all CDs and 14.6% of emergent CDs. Higher rates of GA use were observed in CDs performed in university hospitals, after hours and on weekends, and on patients who were American Society of Anesthesiologists class III or higher and 18 years of age or younger.

Full reference: Juang, J. et al. (2017) Choice of Anesthesia for Cesarean Delivery: An Analysis of the National Anesthesia Clinical Outcomes Registry. Anesthesia & Analgesia. 124 (6) pp. 1914–1917

Frailty Level Accurate Predictor of Post-op Complications

Assessing a patient’s level of frailty before an operation can provide important insight into which individuals might develop postoperative complications.

A study by Dr. Balzer and his colleagues conducted a review of patients 65 years of age or older who were seen in the outpatient anesthesiology department for elective surgery from Jan. 14, 2016 through April 30, 2016. A frailty assessment was administered to 196 patients, consisting of a grip strength measurement, timed up-and-go test, a hemoglobin test, and a body mass index or serum albumin level as a test for malnutrition.

The patients were assigned 1 point for each pathologic test result. Patients scoring 0 to 1 point were designated “non-frail” (reference group; 68%); those with 2 points were “pre-frail” (23%) and those with 3 to 4 points were “frail” (9%). Postoperative complications were analyzed via ICD-10 diagnosis codes, and European Society of Cardiology/European Society of Anaesthesiology (ESC/ESA) guidelines were used to estimate operative risk.

Read more at Anesthesiology News

A Structured Transfer of Care Process Reduces Perioperative Complications in Cardiac Surgery Patients

Hall, M. et al. Anesthesia & Analgesia |Published online: 11 May 2017


Introduction: Serious complications are common during the intensive care of postoperative cardiac surgery patients. Some of these complications may be influenced by communication during the process of handover of care from the operating room to the intensive care unit (ICU) team. A structured transfer of care process may reduce the rate of communication errors and perioperative complications.

Discussion: The main finding of this investigation is that the introduction of a collaborative, comprehensive transfer of care process from the operating room to the ICU was associated with patients suffering fewer preventable complications.

Read the full abstract here

Rocuronium vs. succinylcholine for rapid sequence intubation: a Cochrane systematic review

Tran, D.T.T. et al. (2017) Anaesthesia 72(6) pp. 765–777

This systematic review was performed to determine whether rocuronium creates intubating conditions comparable to those of succinylcholine during rapid sequence intubation of the trachea.

Overall, succinylcholine was superior to rocuronium for achieving excellent intubating conditions (risk ratio (95%CI) 0.86 (0.81 to 0.92), n = 4151) and clinically acceptable intubation conditions (risk ratio (95%CI) 0.97 (0.95–0.99), n = 3992). A high incidence of detection bias amongst the trials coupled with significant heterogeneity means that the quality of evidence was moderate for these conclusions. Succinylcholine was more likely to produce excellent intubating conditions when using thiopental as the induction agent: risk ratio (95%CI) 0.81 (0.73–0.88), n = 2302) with or without the use of opioids (risk ratio (95%CI) 0.85 (0.78–0.93), n = 2292 or 0.85 (0.76–0.95), n = 1428).

Read the full abstract here