Korean J Hosp Palliat Care.  2011 Jun;14(2):91-100.

Current Situation on Signing Advance Medical Directives and Actual Life-sustaining Treatment Given at a University Hospital

  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Korea University Guro Hospital, Seoul, Korea. younseon@korea.ac.kr
  • 2Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Korea University Anam Hospital, Seoul, Korea.


This study was performed to investigate patients' preferences on receiving life-sustaining treatments (LST) and to analyze the relationship between patients' characteristics and LST selection. We also examined any discrepancy between LST patients' choices regarding medical intervention and actual medical intervention given/not given within 48 hours before death.
This cross-sectional study was performed from March 1, 2008 to August 31, 2008 in the Palliative Care Unit of Korea University Hospital. Electric medical records (EMR) of 102 hospice cancer patients were reviewed, and 74 patients with Glasgow coma scale (GCS) > or =10 at the time of signing the advance medical directives (AMD) were selected for the first analysis. Then, patients alive at the end of this study, transferred to other hospitals or dead within 48 hours were excluded, and the remaining 42 patients were selected for the second analysis.
Preferred LST included antibiotics, total parenteral nutrition, tube feeding, transfusion, and laboratory and imaging studies. The relationship between patients' characteristics and LST could not be analyzed due to skewed preferences. LST chosen at the time of signing the AMD and actual medical intervention given/not given in the last 48 hours showed discrepancy in most cases.
When making AMD in hospice cancer patients, it is important to consider the time and possibility of changing the choices. Above all, patients must fully understand the AMD. Thus, LST should always be provided with careful consideration of all possibilities, because legal and social aspects of AMD have not been established yet.


Advance directives; Palliative care; Life support care; Hospices

MeSH Terms

Advance Directives
Anti-Bacterial Agents
Cross-Sectional Studies
Enteral Nutrition
Glasgow Coma Scale
Life Support Care
Medical Records
Palliative Care
Parenteral Nutrition, Total
Anti-Bacterial Agents
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