Surrogates and physician preferences regarding the continuation of mechanical ventilation among critically ill adults

Jared A. Greenberg, Thomas V. Quinn, James Gerhart, Raj C. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Rationale: For an incapacitated patient who is difficult to liberate from mechanical ventilation, surrogates and physicians will decide to continue life support if they believe doing so is consistent with the patient's prognosis and values. Little is known about the factors that surrogates and physicians prioritize during this decision-making process, in part because there is not a validated method to assess their preferences. Objectives: To evaluate trends in surrogate and physician preferences for continuing mechanical ventilation. Methods: One hundred surrogates and respective physicians of patients requiring mechanical ventilation for at least 7 days were prospectively enrolled at an academic, tertiary care medical center. During the second and third week of mechanical ventilation, participant preferences for continuing mechanical ventilation were assessed in two ways, the first emphasizing patient survival and the second emphasizing patient comfort as the primary goal. Results: During the patient's second week of mechanical ventilation, surrogates agreed more strongly than did physicians that mechanical ventilation should be continued to maximize the chance for patient survival (73% vs. 63%, respectively, P = 0.02 for difference). In contrast, at this same point in time, surrogates and physicians agreed similarly that mechanical ventilation should be discontinued to maximize patient comfort (37% vs. 38%, respectively, P = 0.34 for difference). Both surrogates and physicians agreed less strongly during week 3 than they did during week 2 that mechanical ventilation should be continued with a goal of maximizing patient survival, with preferences to limit the use of mechanical ventilation for patients with the poorest prognoses according to physiological variables. In contrast, only physicians agreed more strongly during week 3 than they did during week 2 that mechanical ventilation should be discontinued to maximize patient comfort. Conclusions: Level of surrogate and physician agreement that mechanical ventilation should be continued to maximize the chance for patient survival reflected their preferences more accurately than level of surrogate and physician agreement that mechanical ventilation should be discontinued to maximize patient comfort. Over time, surrogates and physicians were less likely to agree that mechanical ventilation should be continued, particularly when patients had poor prognoses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1448-1454
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Volume17
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Chronic critical illness
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Shared decision-making

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