The study is based on a nationwide retrospective study of a random sample of adult patients who died in December 2009. It looks at the frequency of end of life decisions by patients’ and physician’s characteristics, and describes the decision-making process at end of life.
Results suggest that 16.9% of all deaths were sudden deaths with no information about end of life. 12.2% followed a decision to do everything possible to prolong life. 47.7% followed at least one medical decision that may certainly or probably hasten death.
The study concludes that end-of-life medical decisions are common in France, but that not all legal obligations were met or where the decision was totally illegal.
The authors call for medical education and population awareness-raising to ensure that the decision-making process is compatible with current legislation, the physician’s duty of care and the patient’s rights.
End-of-life medical decisions in France: a death certificate follow-up survey 5 years after the 2005 Act of Parliament on Patients’ Rights and End of Life
Sophie Pennec, Alain Monnier, Silvia Pontone and Régis Aubry.
BMC Palliative Care 2012, 11:25. Published: 3 December 2012