“Everything has been tried and his heart can’t recover…”: A Descriptive Review of “Do Everything!” in the Archive of Ontario Consent and Capacity Board

Title: “Everything has been tried and his heart can’t recover…”: A Descriptive Review of “Do Everything!” in the Archive of Ontario Consent and Capacity Board
Authors: Yim, Holly
Hashmi, Syeda Shanza
Dewar, Brian
Dyason, Claire
Kyeremanteng, Kwadwo
Lamb, Susan
Shamy, Michel
Date: 2022-06-27
Abstract: Abstract Background In end-of-life situations, the phrase “do everything” is sometimes invoked by physicians, patients, or substitute decision-makers (SDM), though its meaning is ambiguous. We examined instances of the phrase “do everything” in the archive of the Ontario Consent and Capacity Board (CCB) in Canada, a tribunal with judicial authority to adjudicate physician–patient conflicts in order to explore its potential meanings. Methods We systematically searched the CCB’s online public archive from its inception to 2018 for any references to “do everything” in the context of critical care medicine and end-of-life care. Two independent assessors reviewed decisions, collected characteristics, and identified key themes. Results Of 598 cases in the archive, 41 referred to “do everything” in end-of-life situations. The phrase was overwhelmingly invoked by SDMs (38/41, 93%), typically to advocate for life-prolonging measures that contradicted physician advice. Physicians generally related “doing everything” to describe the interventions they had already performed (3/41, 7%), using it to recommend focusing on patients’ quality of life. SDMs were generally reluctant to accept death, whereas physicians found prolonging life at all costs to be morally distressing. The CCB did not interpret appeals to “do everything” legally but followed existing laws by deferring to patients’ prior wishes whenever known, or to concepts of “best interests” when not. The CCB generally recommended against life-prolonging measures in these cases (26/41, 63%), focusing on patients’ “well-being” and “best interests.” Conclusions In this unique sample of cases involving conflict surrounding resuscitation and end-of-life care, references to “do everything” highlighted conflicts over quantity versus quality of life. These appeals were associated with signs of cognitive distress on the behalf of SDMs who were facing the prospect of a patient’s death, whereas physicians identified moral distress related to the prolongation of patients’ suffering through their use of life-sustaining interventions. This divergence in perspectives on death versus suffering was consistently the locus of conflict. These findings support the importance of tools such as the Serious Illness Conversation Guide that can be used by physicians to direct conversations on the patients’ goals, wishes, trade-offs, and to recommend a treatment plan that may include palliative care. Trial Registration Not applicable.
URL: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-022-00796-7
CollectionPublications par les auteurs d'uOttawa publiés par BioMed Central // uOttawa authored publications from BioMed Central