19 September 2009

Physicians’ experience with surrogate decision making for hospitalized adults

How do doctors really feel about surrogate decision making?
Indiana University School of Medicine: 8 September 2009
A growing number of hospitalized adults are incapable of making their own health decisions, but little research has explored how doctors feel about making medical decisions with a patient's surrogate decision maker.

A study published in the September 2009 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that one in five doctors are not comfortable working with a surrogate decision maker. The doctors surveyed reported ineffective communication, lack of satisfaction with the outcome of the decision, and an increase in stress level as a result of the surrogate decision making process.

"We have come to consensus in our society that people should have a lot of input into their own medical decisions. But when the patient can't made decisions we have much less consensus on how to proceed. For example, we aren't as certain if the family should have as much discretion as patients would if they could make their own decisions or if the physicians should assume some of the responsibility," said Alexia Torke, M.D., senior author of the study. Dr. Torke is assistant professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a Regenstrief Institute investigator. … > full press release

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