Dysphagia is characterized by difficulty swallowing solids and /or liquids and may arise from a variety of underlying conditions, including cognitive impairment, weakness, mechanical obstruction, and incoordination. Presenting symptoms may include prolonged meal times, avoidance of certain foods/liquids, new head or body movements during meals, voice changes with eating, coughing, choking, or unexplained weight loss. Dysphagia place the patient at increased risk for aspiration and malnutrition.Continue reading “Dysphagia”
- Hypercalcemia is associated with several cancers, most commonly breast, lung, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. Hypercalcemia in the setting of advanced cancer may be caused by release of calcium due to bone metastases, solid tumor release of PTHrP (parathyroid hormone-related protein), or tumor production of calcitriol leading to increased intestinal calcium resorption. Hypercalcemia in cancer patients is indicative of widespread disease and is associated with a poor prognosis for long-term survival.
The Medicare Hospice Benefit provides for four different levels of hospice care, depending on the needs of the terminally ill patient.Continue reading “The Four Different Levels of Hospice Care”
The prevalence of pain varies by dx, stage of disease, and setting of care. Approximately 1/3 of patients with cancer experience pain at the time of diagnosis, while 2/3 with metastatic disease report pain. Less is known about the prevalence of pain in those with diagnoses other than cancer.
Pain is described by the World Health Organization as a “multidimensional phenomenon with sensory, physiological, cognitive, affective, behavioral and spiritual components.” Pain is a complex biopsychosocial phenomenon, an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in these terms. (Pain is whatever the patient says it is.)Continue reading “Pain Management at the End of Life (Reading and Sharing)”
POLST is a physician order for life-sustaining treatment, which is called a medical order for life-sustaining treatment in some states. This form is created during a conversation with a medical provider and lays out the patient’s end-of-life wishes. It is considered a medical order, and is most useful in times of emergency. Typically, POLST or MOLST forms are intended for patients who have a life expectancy of 1 year or less, and the POLST is a doctor’s order for the specific instructions the patient has given the physician about what to do in possible future situations.Continue reading “What is POLST?”