End-of-Life Advice in Health Center Saratoga Springs NY

When deciding whether to turn off life support for a loved one, family members aren't always interested in their doctor's advice, new research shows. The finding runs counter to assumptions among critical-care providers that families making such a heart-wrenching choice would welcome a physician's impartial opinion.

Local Companies

Washington Hospice & Palliative Care
(518)746-2400
415 Lower Main St
Hudson Falls, NY
Washington County Hospice & Palliative Care Program
518-746-2400
415 Lower Main Street
Hudson Falls, NY
St. Peter's Health Care Services
(518) 581-0800
179 Lawrence St
Saratoga Springs, NY
St Peter's Hospital
(518) 843-5412
246 Mannys Corners Rd
Amsterdam, NY
Referral Information Services
(516) 627-6376

Manhasset, NY
Capital District Hospice
518-377-8846
1411 Union Street
Schenectady, NY
Capital District Hospice
518-377-8846
1411 Union Street
Schenectady, NY
Community Hospice Inc
(518) 581-0800
179 Lawrence St
Saratoga Springs, NY
St Peter's Hospital
(518) 581-0800
179 Lawrence St
Saratoga Springs, NY
Hospice of Chenango County
(607) 334-3556
21 Hayes St
Norwich, NY
Data Provided by:
      

Provided By:

TUESDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- When deciding whether to turn off life support for a loved one, family members aren't always interested in their doctor's advice, new research shows.

The finding runs counter to assumptions among critical-care providers that families making such a heart-wrenching choice would welcome a physician's impartial opinion.

Critically ill patients who don't have advance directives often require others to make medical decisions for them, said study author Douglas B. White, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Family members often make the decision based on what they believe the patient would have wanted.

"This puts an enormous emotional burden on surrogates; not only are they losing a loved one, they also may feel burdened by guilt about allowing the patient to die," White said. "It was therefore assumed by some in the medical community that a doctor's dispassionate advice could reduce some of that burden and help surrogates make a good decision with less second-guessing themselves."

Researchers showed videos to 169 surrogates recruited from intensive care units at University of California San Francisco Medical Center. The videos depicted a dramatized "family conference" in which surrogates must decide whether to withdraw life support from a loved one who has a small chance of survival with continued treatment, but a high likelihood of being functionally impaired and needing a ventilator.

In one video, the doctor tells the surrogate to make the choice that's consistent with the patient's values, and that only the surrogate knows what that is. In the second video, the doctor tells the surrogate that the patient probably wouldn't want continued attempts to keep him or her alive.

About 56 percent of surrogates said they preferred the video in which the physician offered an opinion to limit life support, while 42 percent preferred the video in which no recommendation was offered. Two percent had no preference.

The study appears in the August 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Dr. J. Randall Curtis, president of the American Thoracic Society, said the paper challenges current assumptions about dealing with families in end-of-life situations.

"This is an important article that has changed my clinical practice," said Curtis, a professor of medicine and section head of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. "I had previously assumed that almost all families would want physicians' recommendations, but these findings indicate that there is no such consensus among surrogates. I suspect that physicians can do more harm by withholding a recommendation that is desired than by providing a recommendation that is not desired, but this study suggests we should ask rather than assume."

About 51 percent of the surrogates who wanted their doctor's advice believed that it was the doctor's job to provide that opinion. Nearly 79 percent who preferred not to receive the advice saw it as overstepping.

"A very important part of American bioethics is respecting patients' choices," White said. "The family's most important job when acting as a surrogate decision maker is to give voice to the patient's values. I think our research highlights that the physician's job is to be flexible enough and insightful enough to respond to the surrogate's individual needs for guidance."

More information

The Family Caregiver Alliance has more on making end-of-life decisions.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, August 2009

Copyright © 2009 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

Read Article at HealthDay.com

Related Articles
- Addiction Treatment Centers Saratoga Springs NY
It amazes me how many businesses I see everyday without an open sign. I often wonder do they realize just how much money they are letting slip through their hands. I once read a quote and it said, "A business with no sign is a sign of no business." If you think about it, it is really true.
- Colitis Attack Saratoga Springs NY
- Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer Saratoga Springs NY
- Taking Care Of Health Saratoga Springs NY
- Getting Rid of Blackheads Saratoga Springs NY
- Drug Rehab Centers Saratoga Springs NY
- Baby Care Products and Safety Saratoga Springs NY
- Skin Health Tips Saratoga Springs NY
- Taking Care of Your Health Saratoga Springs NY