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Mortality Conversations Between Male Veterans and Their Providers Prior to Dysvascular Lower Extremity Amputation.

Henderson AW, Turner AP, Leonard C, Sayre G, Suckow B, Williams SL, Norvell DC, Czerniecki JM. Mortality Conversations Between Male Veterans and Their Providers Prior to Dysvascular Lower Extremity Amputation. Annals of vascular surgery. 2023 May 1; 92:313-322.

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BACKGROUND: Among patients facing lower extremity amputation due to dysvascular disease, the mortality risk is very high. Given this, as well as the importance of a patient-centered approach to medical care, informing patients about their possible risk of dying may be important during preoperative shared decision-making. The goal of this investigation was to gain an understanding of patient and provider experiences discussing mortality within the context of amputation within the Veterans Health Administration. METHODS: Semistructured interviews were performed with Veterans with peripheral arterial disease and/or diabetes, vascular and podiatric surgeons, and physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians. Interviews were analyzed using team-based content analysis to identify themes related to amputation-level decisions. RESULTS: We interviewed 22 patients and 21 surgeons and physicians and identified 3 themes related to conversations around mortality: (1) both patients and providers report that mortality conversations are not common prior to amputation; (2) while most providers find value in mortality conversations, some express concerns around engaging in these discussions with patients; and (3) some patients perceive mortality conversations as unnecessary, but many are open to engaging in the conversation. CONCLUSIONS: Providers may benefit from introducing the topic with patients, including providing the context for why mortality conversations may be valuable, with the understanding that patients can always decline to participate should they not be interested or comfortable discussing this issue.

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