Many Surgeons Don't Discuss Post-op Medical Wishes

Fri, 12/16/2011 - 4:47am

A new survey of surgeons suggests many fail to discuss their patients' wishes in case a risky operation goes awry, and even more would not operate if patients limited what could be done to keep them alive.

Such medical wishes, called advance directives, outline what can and cannot be done if patients are unable to decide for themselves, but the restrictions are debated among doctors.

"(Surgeons) feel the advance directive basically ties their hands behind their back, and they're not given the tools to get them through the surgery," said Dr. Margaret Schwarze, one of the survey's authors and an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

She and her colleagues asked 912 surgeons who regularly perform risky operations 14 questions on how they discuss a patient's advance directives and whether they influence their decision to operate.

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