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Health Agencies Update
August 25, 2010

End-of-Life Wishes

JAMA. 2010;304(8):846. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1199

Patients who used a standardized form signed by a physician to express their wishes for care at the end of life were more likely to receive their preferred level of care than patients who used more traditional methods such as advance directives and do-not-resuscitate orders, according a study funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research.

The retrospective cohort study examined the records of 1711 patients from a random sample of 90 nursing facilities in Oregon, Wisconsin, and West Virginia and compared the end-of-life care patients received with their wishes as expressed through a Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form or more traditional means (Hickman SE et al. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2010;58[7]:1241-1248). Patients who used the POLST form, which includes the patient's preferences on cardiopulmonary resuscitation as well as hospitalization, antibiotics, and artificial nutrition, were more likely to have their preferences recorded, and those who chose comfort measures only were less likely to receive medical interventions.

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