ADVANCE DIRECTIVES: Seldom Executed, Study Finds
Only about one-third of patients admitted to hospitals receive instructions on executing living wills, despite the Self-Determination Act of 1991, which mandated that hospitals provide such information upon admission. Reuters Health reports that New York-based IPRO's study of 9,100 elderly, chronic heart failure patients admitted to 58 New York hospitals in 1997 found that some two-thirds of patients never receive such information -- even two days after admission. Of living wills completed, only one-third made it into patients' medical charts, a "disturbing" indication that advance directives are "essentially being ignored two-thirds of the time by the hospital and by health care providers." The study authors urged physicians to discuss living wills with their patients, as their "preferences may change over time." Patients and families can aid in compliance as well by ensuring that advance directives are taken to the hospital and placed into the appropriate chart (1/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.