Abstract

Background: Health services in Tasmania, Victoria and now Western Australia are changing to goals-of-care (GOC) advance care planning (ACP) documentation strategies.

Aim: To compare the clinical impact of two different health department-sanctioned ACP documentation strategies.

Methods: A non-blinded, pre–post, controlled study over two corresponding 6-month periods in 2016 and 2017 comparing the current discretional not-for-resuscitation (NFR) with a new, inclusive GOC strategy in two medical/oncology wards at a large private hospital. Main outcomes were the uptake of ACP forms per hospitalisation and the timing between hospital admission, ACP form completion and in-patient death. Secondary outcomes included utilisation of the rapid response team (RRT), palliative and critical care services.

Results: In total, 650 NFR and 653 GOC patients underwent 1885 admissions (mean Charlson Comorbidity Index = 3.7). GOC patients had a higher uptake of ACP documentation (346 vs 150 ACP forms per 1000 admissions, P < 0.0001) and a higher proportion of ACP forms completed within the first 48 h of admission (58 vs 39%, P = 0.0002) but a higher incidence of altering the initial ACP level of care (P = 0.003). All other measures, including ACP documentation within 48 h of death (P = 0.50), activation of RRT (P = 0.73) and admission to critical (P = 0.62) or palliative (P = 0.81) care services, remained similar. GOC documentation was often incomplete, with most sub-sections left blank between 74 and 87% of occasions.

Conclusion: Despite an increased uptake of the GOC form, overall use remained low, written completion was poor, and most quantitative outcomes remained statistically unchanged. Further research is required before a wider GOC implementation can be supported in Australia’s healthcare systems.

Keywords

advance care planning, patient care planning, resuscitation orders

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