The majority of palliative care patients are not in pain at end of life
Many people fear death because of the perception they might suffer increasing pain and other awful symptoms the nearer it gets. There is often the belief palliative care may not alleviate such pain, leaving many people to die excruciating deaths. This study examined patient outcomes using PCOC data over a two year period. PCOC routinely collects data on patients from palliative care services including demographics, underlying disease, setting of care and clinical outcomes for both patients and carer/family. Each patient is assessed using nationally standardised and validated clinical assessment tools as part of routine practice. These tools include patient phase of illness, assessment of function, patient rated symptom distress and clinician rated problem severity. All palliative care patients who had at least two assessments within an episode of care were included. Specialist palliative care is highly effective with over 85% of patients having no severe symptoms at all prior to death. In fact, only 2.5% of dying patients receiving specialist palliative care are in severe pain, dispelling the myth of uncontrolled pain as an expectation for patients who are dying.