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Keywords:

  • dementia;
  • hospitalization;
  • consultation;
  • education

Hospitalized individuals with advanced dementia often receive care that is of limited clinical benefit and inconsistent with preferences. An advanced dementia consultation service was designed, and a pre and post pilot study was conducted in a Boston hospital to evaluate it. Geriatricians and a palliative care nurse practitioner conducted consultations, which consisted of structured consultation, counseling and provision of an information booklet to the family, and postdischarge follow-up with the family and primary care providers. Individuals aged 65 and older with advanced dementia who were admitted were identified, and consultations were solicited using pop-ups programmed into the computerized provider order entry (POE) system. In the initial 3-month period, 24 subjects received usual care. In the subsequent 3-month period, consultations were provided to five subjects for whom they were requested. Data were obtained from the electronic medical record and proxy interviews (admission, 1 month after discharge). Mean age of the combined sample (N = 29) was 85.4, 58.6% were from nursing homes, and 86.2% of their proxies stated that comfort was the goal of care. Nonetheless, their hospitalizations were characterized by high rates of intravenous antibiotics (86.2%), more than five venipunctures (44.8%), and radiological examinations (96.6%). Acknowledging the small sample size, there were trends toward better outcomes in the intervention group, including greater proxy knowledge of the disease, better communication between proxies and providers, more advance care planning, lower rehospitalization rates, and fewer feeding tube insertions after discharge. Targeted consultation for advanced dementia is feasible and may promote greater engagement of proxies and goal-directed care after discharge.