Brief report| Volume 41, ISSUE 6, P713-717, December 2011

Evaluation of Limitation-of-Medical-Treatment Forms Used in Emergency Medicine Residency Programs in the United States


      Background: Patients are encouraged to complete limitation-of-medical-treatment forms (LMTFs), sometimes referred to as code status forms or do-not-resuscitate forms, before admission to hospitals or other health care facilities in the United States. Objective: The purpose of this study was to review, evaluate, and to assess the LMTFs currently used in emergency medicine residency training programs throughout the United States. Methods: In February 2009, researchers sent letters to all allopathic and osteopathic emergency medicine residency program directors (n = 193) requesting a copy of the LMTF used in their hospital. These forms were evaluated for content, consistency, and readability. Results: Sixty-five responses were received (corrected response rate = 34%); 45 LMTFs were reviewed. Nineteen LMTFs required the signature of the patient, or the patient's appointed durable power of attorney for health care. The readability ranged from 11th to 17th grade (mean ± SD = 13.16 ± 1.77), greatly exceeding the average Americans' 8th-grade reading level. Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that there is no standardization across LMTFs currently used in hospitals throughout the United States, and these forms are written above the literacy level of the average American adult. Therefore, there is a need to develop and disseminate an LMTF that is both consistent and better understood by the average American adult.


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