Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Surrogate Decision-Making in Hospitals: A Report

Drs. Christopher M. Callahan, Paul R. Helft, Siu L. Hui, Greg A. Sachs, James E. Slaven and Alexia M. Torke  and  Kianna Montz had published a study on surrogate decision-making for elderly hospital patients in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine (formerly Archives of Internal Medicine) on January 20, 2014 (subscription required). Scope and Outcomes of Surrogate Decision Making Among Hospitalized Older Adults, according to the abstract, examined cases of "[h]ospitalized older adults [who] often lack decisional capacity, but outside of the intensive care unit and end-of-life care settings, little is known about the frequency of decision making by family members or other surrogates or its implications for hospital care."  The summary provided in the abstract concludes:

Surrogate decision making occurs for nearly half of hospitalized older adults and includes both complete decision making by the surrogate and joint decision making by the patient and surrogate. Surrogates commonly face a broad range of decisions in the intensive care unit and the hospital ward setting. Hospital functions should be redesigned to account for the large and growing role of surrogates, supporting them as they make health care decisions.

Thanks to Naomi Cahn for sending us this story.

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