Registration attendants show poor readiness to handle advanced care planning discussions


Emergency departments (ED) and other medical points of care are required to provide patients with advance directive (AD) information. Although many hospitals provide AD information in EDs, the comfort and preparation of the ED staff with this responsibility is unclear. To determine the attitudes, comfort levels, and prior training of ED staff with AD. The ED social workers, nurses, registration attendants, residents, and attending physicians at two academic hospitals completed a survey about their attitudes around, preparedness for, and experiences with advance care planning (ACP) discussions in the ED. We received responses from 220 ED staff. Preparedness to discuss ACP with patients varied by profession. Eighty percent of social workers ( = 4/5) and 52% ( = 16/31) of attending physicians reported preparedness to handle ACP discussions. Registration attendants were the least prepared, and only 4% ( = 1/24) reported preparedness to discuss ACP. Attempts at ACP discussions with patients also differed by profession, with attending physicians being the most likely (77%,  = 24/31), whereas registration attendants were the least likely (8%,  = 2/24). Fifty-nine percent of surveyed staff ( = 130/220) believed that ACP was a component of emergency care, although only 13% ( = 29/220) had received training. The ED staff are in favor of ACP in the ED. Preparedness for, and attempts of ACP discussions with patients in the ED vary by profession. Attending physicians and social workers tend to be the most prepared, and they report the most frequent attempts at discussions with patients. Despite the fact that registration attendants are frequently tasked with asking about patient ADs, they show little confidence in asking about and discussing such matters. Our research indicates that registration attendants feel unprepared to guide discussions of ADs and should not do so without additional training.



PubMed ID


Link to Full Text