End-of-life discussions cut risk of hospital mortality

While only a fraction of nursing home patients undertake end-of-life discussions, those patients were less likely to die in the hospital and more likely to appoint a surrogate to coordinate their care, according to a study published in Age and Ageing.

Researchers found that among 80 French nursing homes, no end-of-life discussions whatsoever were held with 32.8 percent of patients or their families.

During the study period, 674 patients died. Patients who discussed three or more of six end-of-life topics with their physicians and caregivers in their last months of life stood less chance of dying in a hospital and had increased likelihood of appointing a surrogate or representative and choose to withdraw medical treatments that prolonged their lives.

The six end-of-life topics included talks about the course and prognosis of a resident's disease, the approaching end of life, the possibility of stopping treatments, options for palliative care, psychological issues, and spiritual or existential problems.

A study published earlier this year in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that U.S. patients are not receiving much in the way of end-of-life care, FierceHealthcare previously reported, in spite of incentives for doctors and patients to do so. 

To learn more:
- read the study abstract