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Investigation and management of iron deficiency anaemia in a specialist palliative care setting and the role of intravenous iron: a descriptive analysis of hospice data

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>22/03/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>AMRC Open Research
Issue number6
Number of pages19
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Background: Anaemia is common in hospice populations and associated with significant symptom burden. Guidelines recommend investigating for and treating iron deficiency (ID), but there is little evidence of this practice in palliative care populations. This report describes the results of investigations for and subsequent management of ID in a UK hospice.

Methods: This is a descriptive study of routine clinical data. Laboratory and clinical records were reviewed retrospectively for 12 months following the implementation, in August 2018, of routine investigation for ID amongst patients with clinically relevant anaemia in whom treatment would be considered. Absolute (AID) and functional iron deficiency (FID) were diagnosed using established definitions and treatments recorded.

Results: Iron status was evaluated in 112 cases, representing 25/110 (22.7%) of those with mild, 26/76 (60.5%) moderate and 41/54 (75.9%) severe anaemia. Twenty-eight (25%) were defined as having AID, 48 (42.8%) FID and 36 (32%) no ID. There was a significant difference between groups in symptoms triggering haemoglobin check and diagnosis, with a higher proportion of patients with classic symptoms of anaemia and gastrointestinal malignancy in those with AID. Intravenous iron was given on 12 occasions in the hospice with no major adverse events. Subjective symptom benefit in 7 cases and a significant increase in overall mean haemoglobin were observed.

Conclusions: This report describes the outcome of investigations for iron deficiency in patients with clinically significant anaemia in a UK hospice. Results indicate iron deficiency is common and can be safely treated with intravenous iron replacement, within current guidelines, in a hospice setting. Further research should define the optimum use of this approach in palliative care patients.