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Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2007 Jan;2(1):107-11. Epub 2006 Nov 8.

Nephrologists' changing practices in reported end-of-life decision-making.

Author information

1
Division of Nephrology, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA. jlh4qs@virginia.edu

Abstract

Because the dialysis patient population is increasingly composed of older patients with high symptom burden, shortened life expectancy, and multiple comorbid conditions, nephrologists often engage in end-of-life decision-making with their patients. In the 1990s, reported practices of nephrologists' end-of-life decision-making showed much variability. In part as a reaction to that variability, the Renal Physicians Association (RPA) and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) developed a clinical practice guideline on end-of-life decision-making. To determine whether nephrologists' attitudes and reported practices had changed over time, survey responses from 296 nephrologists completing an online survey in 2005 were compared with 318 nephrologists who completed a similar mailed survey in 1990. In 2005, less variability was noted in reported practices to withhold dialysis from a permanently unconscious patient (90% would withhold in 2005 versus 83% who would withhold in 1990, P < 0.001) and to stop dialysis in a severely demented patient (53% in 2005 would stop versus 39% in 1990, P < 0.00001). In 2005, significantly more dialysis units were reported to have written policies on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (86% in 2005 versus 31% in 1990, P < 0.0001) and withdrawal of dialysis (30% in 2005 versus 15% in 1990, P < 0.0002); nephrologists were also more likely to honor a dialysis patient's do-not-resuscitate order (83% in 2005 versus 66%, P < 0.0002) and to consider consulting a Network ethics committee (52% in 2005 versus 39%, P < 0.001). Nephrologists' reported practices in end-of-life care have changed significantly over the 15 years separating the two surveys, suggesting that the development of the clinical practice guideline was worthwhile.

PMID:
17699394
DOI:
10.2215/CJN.03080906
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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