Original Article

CME Article: A More Directive Living Will for Older Adult Patients with End-Stage Medical Conditions?

Authors: Jack DePriest, MD, MACM, Priyanka Jagannath, MD, Michael Iannetti, MD, Suzanne Kemper, MPH


Objectives: Many older adult patients want to be treated aggressively for reversible conditions, even when their current quality of life is limited; however, most standard living wills focus on the very end of life and provide little guidance to acute care providers (ACPs) should their older adult patient be admitted with a potentially treatable acute condition and temporarily lose capacity. We developed what we believe is a more informational and directive living will for this population. We sought to determine whether ACPs would find our pilot living will more helpful when caring for their older adult patients.

Methods: Convenience sample of members of the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM). Respondents were asked to compare the pilot living will with their state form and then answer five attitudinal questions.

Results: In total, 125 providers from 39 states completed the survey: 86% indicated that the pilot living will better helped them understand their patients’ general end-of-life preferences, 87.5% indicated the pilot living will would be more helpful in making specific treatment decisions for their patients, and 85% indicated the pilot living will would better facilitate end-of-life discussions with surrogates.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that it is possible to design a functional advanced directive that better reflects the wishes of the older adult patient who wants to be treated aggressively in selected clinical situations. By more clearly defining these wishes, acute providers (eg, hospitalists, intensivists) can make more informed, patient-centered recommendations to surrogates.

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