Code Status Discussions in Psychiatric and Medical Inpatients

Background: The Patient Self-Determination Act along with regulatory standards and institutional standards of care highlight the need for collaboration between care providers and patients with respect to goals of care and, in emergency situations, code status and measures to be taken in keeping with patients’ wishes. Addressing code status may be lacking in patients who require psychiatric hospitalization due to the nature of psychiatric illness, relative medical stability, and a general expectation of survival. We sought to compare code status documentation and discussion between psychiatric and medical inpatients, as this knowledge will help shape future interventions for process improvement.

Method: We conducted a retrospective chart review of hospitalized patients in psychiatric and medical units during a 12-month period in 2008. For those with multiple admissions, we reviewed only the index (or first) hospitalization. Data collected included demographic information, clinical information regarding cancer as a primary diagnosis or a diagnosis that met National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) guidelines, code status order and discussion documentation, the presence of an advance directive, length of stay, and 1-year mortality. Data were summarized using mean values, percentages, and frequencies. The 2 groups (psychiatric and medical groups) were compared.

Results: The charts of 276 psychiatric patients and 317 general medical patients were reviewed. More psychiatric patients had dementia (P < .001). Medical inpatients had a higher rate of code status order documented on admission (96% vs 65%, P < .001) and “full-code, discussed” order (67% vs 33%, P < .001). Psychiatric inpatients had more “do not resuscitate/do not intubate” orders (20% vs 13%, P = .037), more frequent changes in code status order (18% vs 7%, P < .001), and a higher percentage of advance directives (46% vs 25%, P < .001).

Conclusions: A code status discussion with hospitalized patients needs to occur at admission regardless of reason for admission. Strategies are needed to improve this process for psychiatric inpatients.

J Clin Psychiatry 2015;76(1):49–53

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.13m08912