SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574
VAN NIEKERK, L and RAUBENHEIMER, P J. A point-prevalence survey of public hospital inpatients with palliative care needs in Cape Town, South Africa. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2014, vol.104, n.2, pp.138-141. ISSN 2078-5135.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the need for palliative care among inpatients occupying acute beds in the public sector hospitals of the Cape Town Metropole. METHODS: A cross-sectional, contemporaneous, point-prevalence study was performed at 11 public sector hospitals in the Cape Town Metropole using a standardised palliative care identification tool. Data were collected on the socio-demographic characteristics, diagnoses, and prior and current care planning of patients. RESULTS: The case notes of 1 443 hospital inpatients were surveyed, and 16.6% were found to have an active life-limiting disease. The mean age of the group was 56 years. The diagnoses were cancer in 50.8%, organ failure in 32.5%, and HIV/tuberculosis in 9.6%. The greatest burden of disease was in the general medical wards, to which an overall 54.8% of patients meeting the requirements for palliative care were admitted. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence for the need for palliative care services in public sector hospitals and in the health system as a whole. The young age of patients and the high prevalences of end-stage renal failure and HIV are unique, and the burden in the general medical wards suggests a focus for initial inpatient programmes.