According to a story from Medical Xpress, the Alberta Health Services’ Kaye Edmonton Interstitial Lung Disease Clinic is taking a more patient-centered approach to palliative care for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a fatal rare lung disease. The activity of the center has resulted in reduced expenses, improved management of disease symptoms, and a reduction of hospital deaths. The clinic was first made operational in 2012.
About Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a deadly, chronic, progressive lung disease which is characterized by lung tissue scarring, leading to a decline in lung function over time. The cause of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is unknown. With that being said, there are a few risk factors that have been identified, such as smoking cigarettes, exposure to various dusts (metal, wood, stone, and coal dust), occupations related to farming, family history, and potentially certain viral infections. Symptoms include shortness of breath, a dry cough, a distinctive crackling sound detected with a stethoscope, oxygen deficiency in the blood, and clubbed digits. There are few treatment options that can have a significant impact on the progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Treatment may include certain medications, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, and lung transplant. Early intervention can make a major difference in outcomes; five year survival rate is between 20 and 40 percent. To learn more about idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, click here.
Making a Difference at the End of Life
The clinic encourages strategies for treating the disease in the home setting, and the results speak for themselves. For patients who receive treatment through the clinic, only 33 percent have died at a hospital; most patients would prefer to die in the comfort of their homes, and the clinic has allowed 67 percent of patients to get that wish. Treatment approaches in the US and UK may result in as much as 80 percent of patients dying in the hospital.
The overall number of hospital admission or emergency visits in the final months of life were also lessened. This reduces clinical costs and makes things easier for patients overall. While hopefully new therapies will soon allow patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis to get treatment that halts the progression of the disease or at least prolongs survival, in the meantime most patients will ultimately die as a result of their disease. Therefore, making treatment and disease management as comfortable as possible in the final weeks and months of life should be a top priority.
Read more about the impact of this clinical model here.