Context A major step in end-of-life care was achieved in December 2005 when the Israeli parliament passed the "Dying Patient Law." The law (§31-§36) allows a competent person, even if he/she is healthy, to leave written instructions known as advance medical directives (AD), in which they explain their wishes in detail with respect to future medical treatment should it be determined that they are an incompetent terminally ill patient, as defined by the provisions of that law. Objectives The aims were to characterize the group of individuals that completes ADs, characterize the content of recorded ADs, and analyze trends associated with them. Methods We performed a cross-sectional study of the entire population that signed ADs in Israel from 2007 to September 2010. All computerized AD forms were retrieved from the Ministry of Health's database. A descriptive analysis of trends, characteristics, and authorized procedures relating to the population of AD signatories was done. Results There was an increase in the number of ADs signed during the study period (1167 signatories). About 90% of the AD signatories were 65 years of age or older and 95% were healthy at the time they completed the AD. In an end-stage condition, the mean number of procedures declined was 16.6 ± 4.7 of 19. In a non-end-stage condition, the corresponding mean number was 12.7 ± 3.7 of 15. Conclusion There is a need to increase awareness in the general population of the option to prepare ADs. Family physicians, oncologists, and geriatricians should be more involved in this process.
- Advance directives
- Patient Self-Determination Act
- dying patient
- end-of-life care