Emails prompt doctors to note patients’ end-of-life choices

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 14, 2013

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Oncologists who received emails reminding them to discuss end-of-life care preferences with patients with incurable cancer were likelier to document their code status in the medical record, said a study published online Jan. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

After a year, 34% of the 98 advanced lung cancer patients whose physicians received email reminders had their wishes regarding resuscitation and intubation documented. That is more than twice the 15% documentation rate among 83 patients whose doctors did not get the email alerts, said the study (link).

Most of the patients requested not to be intubated or resuscitated. Reminding oncologists to have such talks with advanced cancer patients is vital in helping avoid burdensome, costly, unwanted care at the end of life, the study’s authors said.

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