Author Topic: Review,Dec/21:Benzo Use & Morbidity-Mortality Outcomes in a Palliative Care Unit  (Read 195 times)


The full title of this Canadian study is "Benzodiazepine Use and Morbidity-Mortality Outcomes in a Geriatric Palliative Care Unit: A Retrospective Review".


Introduction: Patients often experience delirium at the end of life. Benzodiazepine use may be associated with an increased risk of developing delirium. Alternate medications used in conjunction with benzodiazepines may serve as an independent precipitant of delirium. The aim is to understand the role of benzodiazepines in precipitating delirium and advanced mortality in palliative care population at the end of life.

Methods: A retrospective medical chart review was conducted at a hospice and palliative care inpatient unit between the periods of June 2017-December 2017 and October 2017-November 2018. It included patients in hospice and palliative care inpatient units who received a benzodiazepine and those who did not. Patient characteristics, as well as Palliative Performance Scale score, diagnosis, and occurrence of admission, terminal, and/or recurrent delirium, were collected and analyzed.

Results: Use of a benzodiazepine was not significantly associated with overall mortality nor cause-specific death without terminal delirium rate. However, it was significantly associated with higher cause-specific death with terminal delirium rate and a higher recurrent delirium rate.

Discussion: This retrospective chart review suggests an association between benzodiazepine use and specific states of delirium and cause-specific death. However, it does not provide strong evidence on the use of this drug, especially at the end of life, as it pertains to the overall mortality rate. Suggested is a contextual approach to the use of benzodiazepines and the need to consider Palliative Performance Scale score and goals of care in the administration of this drug at varying periods during patient length of stay.
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