Aim: To improve the care of patients presenting to the emergency department who are acutely dying or those in whom further disease-modifying treatment is not appropriate.
Design: A quality improvement report on the implementation of a modified Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient (LCP) in an emergency medicine department.
Setting: The emergency medicine department of Ninewells Hospital, Dundee. Ninewells Hospital is the tertiary referral and teaching hospital for the east coast of Scotland and North East Fife.
Key measures for improvement: The pathway was introduced after a 2001 study and a 2003 audit showed that the department had an increasing role in the care of the acutely dying, but some inconsistency in approach. Key measures for improvement were to improve communication between staff, improve the consistency of care and improve the perceived quality of care given. Senior decision making remains a crucial element of the pathway.
Strategies for change: A modified LCP was developed and launched in November 2005. Change was managed via a series of meetings and a pilot process. Serial review and audit allowed ongoing quality review of the pathway and improvements.
Results: The care of the dying patient has become a more consistent and positive endeavour. Nursing staff are very satisfied with its use, and it is hoped that the LCP pathway can be developed further within the organisation.
Conclusions: It has been a rewarding undertaking to improve the care of dying patients, but one which has taken time and has required consistent management of change to promote the positive outcomes.
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