Continuous Deep Sedation Until Death - a Swiss Death Certificate Study

Sarah Ziegler, Margareta Schmid, Matthias Bopp, Georg Bosshard, Milo Alan Puhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background In the last decade, the number of patients continuously deeply sedated until death increased up to fourfold. The reasons for this increase remain unclear. Objective To identify socio-demographic and clinical characteristics of sedated patients, and concurrent possibly life-shortening medical end-of-life decisions. Design Cross-sectional death certificate study in German-speaking Switzerland in 2001 and 2013. Participants Non-sudden and expected deaths (2001: N = 2281, 2013: N = 2256) based on a random sample of death certificates and followed by an anonymous survey on end-of-life practices among attending physicians. Main measures Physicians? reported proportion of patients continuously deeply sedated until death, socio-demographic and clinical characteristics, and possibly life-shortening medical end-of life decisions. Key results In 2013, physicians sedated four times more patients continuously until death (6.7001; 24.5.5013). Four out of five sedated patients died in hospitals, outside specialized palliative care units, or in nursing homes. Sedation was more likely among patients younger than 65 (odds ratio 2.24, 95.6 to 3.2) and those dying in specialized palliative care (OR 2.2, 95.3 to 3.8) or in hospitals (1.7, 95.3 to 2.3). Forgoing life-prolonging treatment with the explicit intention to hasten or not to postpone death combined with intensified alleviation of symptoms was very strongly associated with continuous deep sedation (OR 6.8, 95.7 to 9.8)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1052-1059
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Volume33
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018

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