Video messages can help clarify patients' living wills, study shows

Interpretation errors are common with living wills, but adding a patient-created video testimonial can help physicians avoid making mistakes when it comes to a patient's preference between life-sustaining treatment or natural death, according to a study in March's Journal of Patient Safety.

"Our study shows that medical professionals are more likely to reach a consensus after viewing a video testimonial, proving that we can do better than paper forms alone," said Ferdinando Mirarchi, DO, the study's lead author.

For the study, 741 physicians at 13 hospitals were given clinical scenarios involving critically ill patients who had a living will or a physician order for life-sustaining treatment document. The physicians had to interpret patients' wishes with those documents alone or with the addition of a video in which the patients discussed their treatment choices and then decide on a treatment.

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"For most scenarios, consensus was not attained for code status and resuscitation decisions with standalone LW [living will] and POLST documents," the study concluded. "Adding VMs [video messages] produced significant impacts toward achieving interpretive consensus."

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