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Medical orders for life-sustaining treatment: Is it time yet?

  • Anna Clarissa Araw (a1), Anna Marissa Araw (a1), Renee Pekmezaris (a2) (a3) (a4), Christian N. Nouryan (a2), Cristina Sison (a5), Barbara Tommasulo (a1) and Gisele P. Wolf-Klein (a1) (a4) (a6)...



As the aging population faces complex end-of-life issues, we studied the intervals between long-term care admission and advance directive completion, and between completion and death. We also sought to determine the interdisciplinary team's compliance with documented wishes.


A cross-sectional study of 182 long-term care residents in two facilities with and without completed medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST) in the New York Metropolitan area was conducted. Demographic variables included: gender, age, ethnicity, and diagnosis. Measures included: admission date, MOLST execution date, and date of death. Resident advance directive documentation was compared with clinical intervention at time of death, including intubation and mechanical ventilation.


Of the residents studied, 68.7% were female, 91% were Caucasian and 91.8% were ≥ 65 years of age (mean age: 83). The median time from admission to MOLST signing was 48 days. Median time from admission to MOLST signing for Caucasians was 21 days; for non-Caucasians was 229 days. Fifty-two percent of MOLST were signed by children, and 24% by residents. Of those with signed forms, 25% signed on day of admission, 37% signed within 7 days, and 47% signed within 21 days. Only 3% of residents died the day their MOLST was signed, whereas 12% died within a week, and 22% died within 30 days. Finally, among the 68 subjects who signed a MOLST and died, 87% had their wishes met.

Significance of results:

In this era of growing time constraints and increased regulations, medical directors of long-term care facilities and those team members caring for residents urgently need a clear and simple approach to the goals of care for their residents. The MOLST is an ideal tool in caring for older adults at the end of life, providing concrete guidance, not only with regard to do not resuscitate (DNR) and do not intubate (DNI) orders, but also for practical approaches to daily care for the interdisciplinary team.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Renee Pekmezaris, North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, Health Services Research, 175 Community Drive, Suite 242G, New Hyde Park, New York11021. E-mail:


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