GPs to quiz elderly25th January 2012
Experts have called for GPs to discuss end-of-life plans with their older patients after data revealed it can lower the rate of unplanned hospital admissions.
Dr Andrew Baker and colleagues from the University of Aberdeen carried out a study which showed doctors who asked patients to contribute to 'anticipatory care plans' (ACPs) saw a 43% decrease in unplanned admissions.
The amount of time patients who had drawn up ACPs spent in hospital was 52% lower than people who did not have the plans.
The research showed that while having the plans in place did not extend longevity, it enabled more patients to die in their own homes.
The researchers wrote that ACPs enabled patients "to express their wishes for care prior to a sudden deterioration in their health", and allowed them "increased autonomy and inclusion in the decision-making process".
Data published by the Office for National Statistics last week showed that only a fifth of patients died in their own homes, although 75% said they wanted to.
Dr Baker said: "Anticipatory care plans are a good way of looking at the options available with a view to ensuring the wishes of loved ones are fully understood by everyone involved in their care, so unplanned hospitalisation can be avoided."
"We are faced with an ageing population, which is estimated to see 22% of the population aged over 65 years by 2035. GPs have knowledge of a patient’s full medical history and often have a relationship based on trust. They are uniquely placed to broach this issue to help ensure their final wishes are met."
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