Surrogate and Physician Decision Making for Mechanically Ventilated Patients According to Expected Patient Outcome

Kevin Keuper, Ashley Eaton England, Raj C. Shah, Thomas V. Quinn, James Gerhart, Jared A. Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Surrogates and physicians may differ in their priorities and perspectives when making decisions for incapacitated, critically ill patients. Objectives: To determine the extent to which surrogate and physician decisions to sustain life support are associated with their expectations for patient outcomes. Setting/Subjects: Surrogates and physicians of 100 mechanically ventilated patients at an academic, tertiary care medical center in the United States were surveyed. Measurements: Linear regression was used to determine if participant expectations for patient survival, good quality of life, and confidence in these expectations were associated with their agreement that mechanical ventilation should be continued if required for patient survival. Results: Surrogates were more likely than physicians to expect that patients would be alive in three months (91% interquartile range [IQR 70-95%] vs. 65% [IQR 43-77%], p < 0.001) and have good quality of life in three months (71% [IQR 50-90%] vs. 40% [IQR 19-50%], p < 0.001). Surrogates who were most confident in their prognostic abilities were also the most optimistic for good patient outcomes. As such, expectations for patient survival and good quality of life were not associated with level agreement that mechanical ventilation should be continued among confident surrogates, (R2 = 0.03, p = 0.13) and (R2 = 0.01, p = 0.53), respectively. In contrast, among physicians, confidence was not synonymous with optimism. Instead, the significant associations between expectations for patient survival and good quality of life with the agreement that mechanical ventilation should be continued were strengthened when physicians were confident, (R2 = 0.34, p < 0.01) and (R2 = 0.47, p < 0.001), respectively. Conclusion: Surrogates and physicians have different approaches to incorporating their expectations for patient prognosis and their confidence in these expectations when they are making decisions for incapacitated critically ill patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-914
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Volume25
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

Keywords

  • advance care planning
  • confidence
  • decision making
  • prognosis
  • quality of life
  • surrogate

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