Public Has Divergent Views on End-of-Life Care

Differences of opinion with trauma professionals present challenges for determining best practice

TUESDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) -- The general public and trauma professionals don't always agree about care preferences in cases of life-threatening or fatal injury, and such differences should be taken into account in practice guidelines for comprehensive end-of-life care for trauma victims, according to the results of a study published in the August issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Lenworth M. Jacobs, M.D., of Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Conn., and colleagues surveyed 1,006 adults aged 18 and older and 774 trauma professionals.

The researchers found that areas of agreement between the general public and trauma professionals included a preference for palliative care when doctors determine that aggressive critical care would not help save a life, and acceptance of a doctor's decision to withdraw futile treatment. But they also found that a majority of the public believes that patients should have the right to demand care not recommended by their physicians, and that 57.4 percent of the public believes that divine intervention could save a life compared to only 19.5 percent of trauma professionals.

"The results pose challenges that will require societal discourse to determine the best practice," the authors conclude. "Resolutions will need to be included in educational curricula and incorporated into practice to ensure that dying trauma victims and their families receive quality end-of-life care."

This study was supported by the Aetna Foundation.

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