End-of-Life Decision-Making for Patients With Geriatric Trauma Cared for in a Trauma Intensive Care Unit

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Abstract

Background:

The geriatric trauma population is growing and fraught with poor physiological response to injury and high mortality rates. Our primary hypothesis analyzed how prehospital and in-hospital characteristics affect decision-making regarding continued life support (CLS) versus withdrawal of care (WOC). Our secondary hypothesis analyzed adherence to end-of-life decisions regarding code status, living wills, and advanced directives.

Materials and Methods:

We performed a retrospective review of patients with geriatric trauma at a level I and level II trauma center from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2014. Two hundred seventy-four patients met inclusion criteria with 144 patients undergoing CLS and 130 WOC.

Results:

A total of 13 269 patients with geriatric trauma were analyzed. Insurance type and injury severity score (ISS) were found to be significant predictors of WOC (P = .013/.045). Withdrawal of care patients had shorter time to palliative consultation and those with geriatrics consultation were 16.1 times more likely to undergo CLS (P = .026). Twenty-seven (33%) patients who underwent CLS and 31 (24%) patients who underwent WOC had a living will, advanced directive, or DNR order (P = .93).

Conclusions:

Of the many hypothesized predictors of WOC, ISS was the only tangible independent predictor of WOC. We observed an apparent disconnect between the patient’s wishes via living wills or advanced directives “in a terminal condition” and fulfillment during EOL decision-making that speaks to the complex nature of EOL decisions and further supports the need for a multidisciplinary approach.

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