Physicians play a substantial role in facilitating communication regarding life-supporting treatment decision-making including do-not-resuscitate (DNR) in the intensive care units (ICU). Physician-related factors including gender, personal preferences to life-supporting treatment, and specialty have been found to affect the timing and selection of life-supporting treatment decision-making. This study aimed to examine the influence of physician workload on signing a DNR order in the ICUs.
This is retrospective observational study. The medical records of patients, admitted to the surgical ICUs for the first time between June 1, 2011 and December 31, 2013, were reviewed. We used a multivariate Cox proportional hazards model to examine the influence of the physician’s workload on his/her writing a DNR order by adjusting for multiple factors. We then used Kaplan–Meier survival curves with log-rank test to compare the time from ICU admission to DNR orders written for patients for two groups of physicians based on the average number of patients each physician cared for per day during data collection period.
The hazard of writing a DNR order by the attending physicians who cared for more than one patient per day significantly decreased by 41% as compared to the hazard of writing a DNR order by those caring for fewer than one patient (hazard ratio = 0.59, 95% CI 0.39—0.89, P = .01). In addition, the factors associated with writing a DNR order as determined by the Cox model were non-operative, cardiac failure/insufficiency diagnosis (hazard ratio = 1.71, 95% CI 1.00—2.91, P = .05) and the Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System score (hazard ratio = 1.02, 95% CI 1.00—1.03, P = .03). Physicians who cared for more than one patient per day were less likely to write a DNR order for their patients than those who cared for in average fewer than one patient per day (log-rank chi-square = 5.72, P = .02).