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Advance Directive and Do-Not-Resuscitate Status among Advanced Cancer Patients with Acute Care Surgical Consultation

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Formal communication of end-of-life preferences is crucial among patients with metastatic cancer. Our objective is to describe the prevalence of advance directives (AD) and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders among stage IV cancer patients with acute care surgery consultations, and the associated outcomes. This is a single institution retrospective review over an eight-year period. Two hundred and three patients were identified; mean age was 55.3 ± 11.4 years and 48.8 per cent were male. Fifty (24.6%) patients underwent exploratory surgery. Nineteen (10.6%) patients had another type of surgery. Twenty-one (10.3%) patients had a DNR order, and none had an AD on-admission. Fifty-four (26.6%) patients had a DNR order placed and four (2%) patients completed an AD postadmission. DNR postadmission was associated with the highest mortality at 42.6 per cent compared with 14.3 per cent for DNR on-admission and 1.56 per cent for full-code patients (P < 0.001). Compared with patients that remained full-code and those with DNR on-admission, DNR postadmission was associated with longer length of stay (19.6 days; P < 0.001) and ICU length of stay (7.72 days; P < 0.001). The prevalence of AD and DNR orders among stage IV cancer patients is low. The higher in-hospital mortality of patients with DNR postadmission reflects the use of DNR orders during clinical decline.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2018

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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