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Special considerations for haematology patients in relation to end-of-life care : Australian findings
Recent haematology clinical guidelines recommend that palliative care specialists should have central roles in haemato-oncology teams. However, the available research evidence indicates there are presently significant obstacles to the integration of palliative care in haematology. The following discussion presents findings from an Australian study designed to address the problems associated with lack of referral of haematology patients to the palliative system through the development of a best-practice model for end-of-life care for these diagnostic groups. The preliminary step in the development of such a model is to document the factors that denote the special characteristics of the end-of-life stage of haematological conditions and their treatments.This article presents the list of special considerations from a nursing perspective, including issues associated with the high-tech nature of treatments, the speed of change to a terminal event, the need for blood products and possibility of catastrophic bleeds, the therapeutic optimism based on a myriad of treatment options and the clinical indices of the terminal trajectory. The nursing insights provide an important foundation for building a practical, patient-centred model for terminal care in haematology.