University of Hertfordshire


  • Maureen A Coombs
  • Anne-Sophie E Darlington
  • Tracy Long-Sutehall
  • Natalie Pattison
  • Alison Richardson
View graph of relations
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBMJ Publishing Group Limited
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)2045-435X
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


OBJECTIVES: Most people when asked, express a preference to die at home, but little is known about whether this is an option for critically ill patients. A retrospective cohort study was undertaken to describe the size and characteristics of the critical care population who could potentially be transferred home to die if they expressed such a wish.

METHODS: Medical notes of all patients who died in, or within 5 days of discharge from seven critical care units across two hospital sites over a 12-month period were reviewed. Inclusion/exclusion criteria were developed and applied to identify the number of patients who had potential to be transferred home to die and demographic and clinical data (eg, conscious state, respiratory and cardiac support therapies) collected.

RESULTS: 7844 patients were admitted over a 12-month period. 422 (5.4%) patients died. Using the criteria developed 100 (23.7%) patients could have potentially been transferred home to die. Of these 41 (41%) patients were diagnosed with respiratory disease. 53 (53%) patients were conscious, 47 (47%) patients were self-ventilating breathing room air/oxygen via a mask. 20 (20%) patients were ventilated via an endotracheal tube. 76 (76%) patients were not requiring inotropes/vasopressors. Mean time between discussion about treatment withdrawal and time of death was 36.4 h (SD=46.48). No patients in this cohort were transferred home.

CONCLUSIONS: A little over 20% of patients dying in critical care demonstrate potential to be transferred home to die. Staff should actively consider the practice of transferring home as an option for care at end of life for these patients.


This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

ID: 13401464