Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UCSF

UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Code status discussions between attending hospitalist physicians and medical patients at hospital admission.

  • Author(s): Anderson, Wendy G
  • Chase, Rebecca
  • Pantilat, Steven Z
  • Tulsky, James A
  • Auerbach, Andrew D
  • et al.
Abstract

Background

Bioethicists and professional associations give specific recommendations for discussing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Objective

To determine whether attending hospitalist physicians' discussions meet these recommendations.

Design

Cross-sectional observational study on the medical services at two hospitals within a university system between August 2008 and March 2009.

Participants

Attending hospitalist physicians and patients who were able to communicate verbally about their medical care.

Main measures

We identified code status discussions in audio-recorded admission encounters via physician survey and review of encounter transcripts. A quantitative content analysis was performed to determine whether discussions included elements recommended by bioethicists and professional associations. Two coders independently coded all discussions; Cohen's kappa was 0.64-1 for all reported elements.

Key results

Audio-recordings of 80 patients' admission encounters with 27 physicians were obtained. Eleven physicians discussed code status in 19 encounters. Discussions were more frequent in seriously ill patients (OR 4, 95% CI 1.2-14.6), yet 66% of seriously ill patients had no discussion. The median length of the code status discussions was 1 min (range 0.2-8.2). Prognosis was discussed with code status in only one of the encounters. Discussions of patients' preferences focused on the use of life-sustaining interventions as opposed to larger life goals. Descriptions of CPR as an intervention used medical jargon, and the indication for CPR was framed in general, as opposed to patient-specific scenarios. No physician quantitatively estimated the outcome of or provided a recommendation about the use of CPR.

Conclusions

Code status was not discussed with many seriously ill patients. Discussions were brief, and did not include elements that bioethicists and professional associations recommend to promote patient autonomy. Local and national guidelines, research, and clinical practice changes are needed to clarify and systematize with whom and how CPR is discussed at hospital admission.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View