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Early advance care planning in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients: results of a systematic intervention by a palliative care team in a multidisciplinary management programme – a 4-year cohort study

Original article
Sukockienė E, Iancu Ferfoglia R, Boegli M, Lefranc Barranco C, Truffert A, Héritier Barras AC, Genton L, Leuchter I, Adler D, Janssens JP, Escher M
Swiss Med Wkly. 2021;151:w20484

Early initiation of advance care planning is feasible in most ALS patients during a routine consultation, and relevant treatment issues can be discussed. All ALS patients should be offered the opportunity to write advance directives as completion was not associated with disease severity.

Communication challenges in end-of-life decisions

Review article: Biomedical intelligence
Becker C, Beck K, Vincent A, Hunziker S
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20351

With the progress in healthcare over recent decades and a growing life expectancy, discussions and decisions regarding end-of-life issues have become increasingly important. Especially in intensive care and emergency medicine there is a growing need of decision making for optimised end-of-life care. Prolonging life and preventing death is considered to be the highest principle of healthcare professionals; however, in some cases alleviation of suffering is a more appropriate goal. This article discusses communication challenges in end-of-life decision making and outlines strategies from an area of growing interest and research.

COVID-19: decision making and palliative care

Special article
Borasio GD, Gamondi C, Obrist M, Jox R, for the COVID-19 task force of palliative ch
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20233

Due to the current development around the COVID-19 pandemic, palliative ch has created a Task Force to provide recommendations for health professionals on the treatment of palliative care patients in the various settings ‒ inpatient and outpatient.

COVID-19 pandemic: palliative care for elderly and frail patients at home and in residential and nursing homes

Special article
Kunz R, Minder M
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20235

The current pandemic and the publication of the SAMS Guidelines “COVID-19 pandemic: triage for intensive-care treatment under resource scarcity” have prompted the Association for Geriatric Palliative Medicine to prepare these recommendations for practice.

Medical end-of-life decisions in the oldest old in Switzerland

Original article
Hug K, Penders YWH, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Bopp M, Bosshard G
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20177

Medical end-of-life decisions include the administration of drugs to alleviate pain and other symptoms even when such treatment may hasten the patient’s death, as well as decisions to forgo potentially life-sustaining treatment.

Planning ahead with dementia: what role can advance care planning play? A review on opportunities and challenges

Review article: Biomedical intelligence
Bosisio F, Jox RJ, Jones L, Rubli Truchard E
Swiss Med Wkly. 2018;148:w14706

Taking care of someone with dementia poses a significant challenge for both relatives and professionals. Advance care planning can empower patients with dementia and their relatives to exert control over future care.

Continuous deep sedation until death in patients admitted to palliative care specialists and internists: a focus group study on conceptual understanding and administration in German-speaking Switzerland

Original article
Ziegler S, Schmid M, Bopp M, Bosshard G, Puhan MA
Swiss Med Wkly. 2018;148:w14657

Continuous deep sedation until death is increasingly used to treat intolerable suffering of terminally ill patients. Variation in prevalence estimates indicates a potential effect of differences in practice between care settings and professionals.

Awareness, approval and completion of advance directives in older adults in Switzerland

Original article
Vilpert S, Borrat-Besson C, Maurer J, Borasio GD
Swiss Med Wkly. 2018;148:w14642

Switzerland introduced legally binding advance directives 2013. But there is still no comprehensive evidence on older persons’ awareness, attitudes and behaviours with regard to advance directives in Switzerland.

Directing citizens to create advance directives

Review article: Biomedical intelligence
Haesen S, Shaw D
Swiss Med Wkly. 2018;148:w14628

In Switzerland, it is now mandatory for medical staff to act according to patients’ advance directives. Unfortunately, even though many people know about their ­existence, only a small minority actually draft them.

Challenges of congenital heart disease in grown-up patients

Review article: Biomedical intelligence
Schwerzmann M, Schwitz F, Thomet C, Kadner A, Pfammatter JP, Wustmann K
Swiss Med Wkly. 2017;147:w14495

Cardiac defects are the most common birth defect and affect approximately 0.8% of newborns. Over the past 70 years there has been a remarkable increase in survival of children with congenital heart disease.

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