Type Of Attending Physician Influenced Feeding Tube Insertions For Hospitalized Elderly People With Severe Dementia
Author: Joan Teno, David O. Meltzer, Susan L. Mitchell, Ana T. Fulton, Pedro Gozalo, Vincent Mor
Striking variation has been documented in the rates of feeding tube insertion for hospitalized patients with advanced dementia. This occurs despite the harms of the procedure, which may outweigh its benefits, and the procedure’s inconsistency with care focused on the patient’s comfort. Among nursing home residents with advanced dementia who were hospitalized in 2001–10 with an infection or dehydration, we found that rates of insertion of a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy feeding tube varied by type of attending physician. Insertion rates were markedly lower when all of a patient’s attending physicians were hospitalists (1.6 percent) or nonhospitalist generalists (2.2 percent), compared to all subspecialists (11.0 percent) or a mixture of physicians by type, which typically included a subspecialist (15.6 percent). The portion of patients seen by a mixture of attending physicians increased from 28.9 percent in 2001 to 38.3 percent in 2010. Efforts to improve decision making in the care of patients with advanced dementia should include interventions to improve communication among physicians and the education of subspecialists about the merits of using feeding tubes with this population.