BACKGROUND: The quality of care of patients dying in the hospital is often judged as insufficient. This article describes the protocol of a study to assess the quality of care of the dying patient and the contribution of an intervention targeted on staff nurses of inpatient wards of a large university hospital in the Netherlands.
METHODS/DESIGN: We designed a controlled before and after study. The intervention is the establishment of a network for palliative care nurse champions, aiming to improve the quality of hospital end-of-life care. Assessments are performed among bereaved relatives, nurses and physicians on seven wards before and after introduction of the intervention and on 11 control wards where the intervention is not applied. We focus on care provided during the last three days of life, covered in global ratings of the quality of life in the last three days of life and the quality of dying, and various secondary endpoints of treatment and care affecting quality of life and dying.
DISCUSSION: With this study we aim to improve the understanding of and attention for patients' needs, and the quality of care in the dying phase in the hospital and measure the impact of a quality improvement intervention targeted at nurses.