Studies Highlight Limitations in Emergency Provider Understanding of End-of-Life Care Choices

Emergency care providers vary in their understanding of a type of medical order intended to communicate seriously ill patients' choices for life-sustaining treatments, according to a pair of studies recently published.

Emergency care providers vary in their understanding of a type of medical order intended to communicate seriously ill patients' choices for life-sustaining treatments, according to a pair of studies in the March Journal of Patient Safety.

The studies show "significant confusion" among emergency physicians and prehospital care providers in interpreting the universal end-of-life care documents, called Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST). "Our data suggest that POLST orders can be confusing for Pennsylvania emergency physicians, and likely for physicians nationwide," write Dr. Ferdinando L. Mirarchi of UPMC Hamot, Erie, PA, and colleagues.

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