Another way we're making sure people have end-of-life care directives
You know how if someone emails you over and over, and doesn't stop until you finally respond or just go ahead and do what they've been asking you to, it's really annoying, but also a pretty good strategy on their part because they ended up getting what they wanted?
The same thing, it turns out, works with doctors. Only in this case what they're being nagged about is having an important conversation with terminally ill patients that, let's be honest, they shouldn't have been avoiding or forgetting in the first place.
The number of patients with incurable cancer whose charts indicate whether or not they want to be resuscitated can be doubled, a new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found, provided doctors are sent emails reminding them to ask.
Per national guidelines, this conversation is supposed to occur when a patient's prognosis is less a year.
Barring their ability to set up a Google alert for every time a patient's given 12 months or fewer to live, researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital cancer center in Boston rigged a system where each time a patient began a new round of chemotherapy, their oncologist's inbox was spammed with messages reminding them to have The Talk. The emails got right to the point, beginning: "Your patient has recently been diagnosed with incurable lung cancer. If you have not already done so, this may be an appropriate time to begin a dialogue about his preferences for care at the end of his life."