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Care for patients with altered states of consciousness in a hospital for chronic and long-stay patients
INTRODUCTION. Between 30% and 40% of patients with brain damage present alterations in their level of consciousness and, in some cases, altered states of consciousness: unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS) or minimally conscious state (MCS). Recovery varies and survival is threatened by a number of complications. AIMS. The purpose of this study is to present the working methodology used at the Hospital La Pedrera (HLP) for patients in UWS or MCS and to analyse the clinical characteristics of the patients attended to, their progress, and the functional and cognitive situation at the time of their discharge from hospital.
PATIENTS AND METHODS. The work consisted in a prospective descriptive study of patients seen at the HLP over the period 2009-2013, who had been diagnosed with UWS or MCS.
RESULTS. The HLP uses the case management method, offering integrated care dispensed by a multidisciplinary team. Patients are classified according to healthcare goals. Patients with UWS or MCS are included in the integrated care and adaptation programme. A total of 23 patients (86.9% males) were attended to, the mean age being 54.9 years. Aetiology: brain haemorrhage, 30.4%; anoxic encephalopathy, 26.6%; metabolic encephalopathy, 17.3%; and other causes, 17.3%. Altogether 73.9% were admitted in UWS and the rest in MCS. Course: 43.4% improved their initial cognitive situation and 88.8% presented a situation of total dependence at the time of discharge. The most frequent complications were respiratory and urinary infections (53.6%). Death occurred in 65.2% of cases.