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ICU communication study reveals complexities of family decision-making
Date:1/5/2011

While a much hailed communication intervention works for families making decisions for chronically-ill loved ones in medical intensive care units, Case Western Reserve University researchers found the intervention was less effective for surgical and neurological ICU patients.

Barbara Daly and Sara Douglas, the study's lead researchers from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve, attribute the varied results to different types of patients served by the three types of ICUs and differences among ICU cultures.

"We found the same approach is not going to have the same results for everyone," Daly said

With the number of ICU patients predicted at more than 600,000 patients annually by 2020, researchers search for ways to help families make critical decisions for their loved ones. This study contributes to those ICU practices involving complex communication issues.

The researchers repeated a study from a Boston hospital that resulted in shorter stays and less unneeded tests and treatments when families were routinely informed through a systemized communications intervention about their family member's progress in a medical ICU. They compared the effect of the new communication system in 346 patients to usual practice in 135 patients.

The intervention involved a 30-minute communication meeting between the clinical staff and family, beginning five days after a patient requiring a ventilator was admitted to the ICU. The staff and family covered five components: medical update, preferences and goals for the patient, treatment plans, prognosis, and milestones (the markers that can tell whether a person is improving).

The meetings continued weekly until the patient was transferred to a regular hospital ward, to a long-term facility, went home or died.

According to Daly, the discussions are important because up to 40% of these ICU patients do not survive beyond two months if they
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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