High-quality shared decision-making for patients undergoing elective surgical procedures includes eliciting patient goals and treatment preferences. This is particularly important, should complications occur and life-sustaining therapies be considered. Our objective was to determine the preoperative care preferences of older higher-risk patients undergoing elective procedures and to determine any factors associated with a preference for limitations to life-sustaining treatments.
Cross-sectional survey conducted between May and December 2018. Patients ≥55 years of age presenting for a preprocedural evaluation in a high-risk anesthesia clinic were queried on their desire for life-sustaining treatments (cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, dialysis, and artificial nutrition) as well as tolerance for declines in health states (physical disability, cognitive disability, and daily severe pain).
One hundred patients completed the survey. The median patient age was 68. Most patients were Caucasian (87%) and had an American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) score of III (88%). The majority of patients (89%) desired cardiopulmonary resuscitation. However, most patients would not accept mechanical ventilation, dialysis, or artificial nutrition for an indefinite period of time. Similarly, most patients (67%–81%) indicated they would not desire treatments to sustain life in the event of permanent physical disability, cognitive disability, or daily severe pain.
Among older, higher-risk patients presenting for elective procedures, most patients chose limitations to life-sustaining treatments. This work highlights the need for an in-depth goals of care discussion and establishment of advance care preferences before a procedure or operative intervention.