Discussion and documentation of future care: a before-and-after study examining the impact of an alternative approach to recording treatment decisions on advance care planning in an acute hospital.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine whether discussion and documentation of decisions about future care was improved following the introduction of a new approach to recording treatment decisions: the Universal Form of Treatment Options (UFTO).

METHODS

Retrospective review of the medical records of patients who died within 90 days of admission to oncology or respiratory medicine wards over two 3-month periods, preimplementation and postimplementation of the UFTO. A sample size of 70 per group was required to provide 80% power to observe a change from 15% to 35% in discussion or documentation of advance care planning (ACP), using a two-sided test at the 5% significance level.

RESULTS

On the oncology ward, introduction of the UFTO was associated with a statistically significant increase in cardiopulmonary resuscitation decisions documented for patients (pre-UFTO 52% to post-UFTO 77%, p=0.01) and an increase in discussions regarding ACP (pre-UFTO 27%, post-UFTO 49%, p=0.03). There were no demonstrable changes in practice on the respiratory ward. Only one patient came into hospital with a formal ACP document.

CONCLUSIONS

Despite patients' proximity to the end-of-life, there was limited documentation of ACP and almost no evidence of formalised ACP. The introduction of the UFTO was associated with a change in practice on the oncology ward but this was not observed for respiratory patients. A new approach to recording treatment decisions may contribute to improving discussion and documentation about future care but further work is needed to ensure that all patients' preferences for treatment and care at the end-of-life are known.

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