Background It is becoming increasingly accepted that discussion and documentation of patient wishes and clinical decisions regarding treatment escalation planning are an essential part of patient care. Following the Tracey judgement, it became a legal requirement, rather than a recommendation, for doctors to involve patients and their families in DNAR decisions. A previous audit in the neurosurgical department found a high prevalence of patients at risk of deterioration with little evidence of attempt to discuss or document treatment escalation decisions (TEDs).
To improve the documentation of TEDs in the neurosurgical department
To improve confidence and communication about TEDs within the multi–disciplinary team
Methods We conducted surveys of the multi-disciplinary team within the neurosurgical department to gain a better understanding of their opinions about the current discussion and documentation of TEDs in the department. These contained a mixture of rating scales and free text answers. Following this we engaged senior staff in plans to improve this by introducing these discussions to governance meetings and educated all members of the ward using e learning and tea trolley teaching.
Results Amongst 18 healthcare professionals, 12 felt patients did not have clear TEDs. Ten felt discussions were not appropriately timed. Response themes included feeling unsupported, poor timing of conversations and low quality documentation. Following this a consensus decision from the consultant body mandated documentation of TEDs in patients presenting with chronic subdural haematomas. We have worked closely with the national ReSPECT programme and established the neurosurgical ward as a lead for the introduction of the new form.
Conclusion The neurosurgery department is now at the forefront of the move to improving discussions and documentation about patient wishes in the Trust. Additionally, we have opened the conversation within the multi-disciplinary team and provided training and education about the importance of TEDs.
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