Completion of Limitation of Medical Treatment forms by junior doctors for patients with dementia: clinical, medicolegal and education perspectives

Jaclyn Yoong, Aleece Macphail, Gael Trytell, Prashanti Yalini Rajendram, Margaret Winbolt, Joseph Elias Ibrahim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Objective. Limitation of Medical Treatment (LMT) forms are an essential element of end-of-life care. Decision making around LMT is complex and often involves patients with dementia. Despite the complexity, junior doctors frequently play a central role in completing LMT forms. The present study sought perspectives from a range of stakeholders (hospital clinicians, medical education personnel, legal and advocacy staff) about junior doctors’ roles in completing LMT forms in general and for patients with dementia.
Methods. Qualitative data were gathered in semi-structured interviews (SSI) and theoretical concepts were explored in roundtable discussion (RD). Participants were recruited through purposive and convenience sampling drawing on healthcare and legal personnel employed in the public hospital and aged care systems, selected from major metropolitan hospitals, healthcare and legal professional bodies and advocacy organisations in Victoria, Australia. The contents of the SSIs and RD were subject to thematic analysis using a framework approach. Data were indexed according to the topics established in the study aim; categories were systematically scrutinised, from which key themes were distilled.
Results. Stakeholders reported that completing LMT forms was difficult for junior doctors because of a lack of medical and legal knowledge, as well as clinical inexperience and inadequate training. Healthcare organisations (HCOs) either lacked policies about the role of junior doctors or had practices that were discordant with policy. In this process, there were substantial gaps pertaining to patients with dementia. Recommendations made by the study participants included the provision of supervised clinical exposure and additional training for junior doctors, strengthening HCO policies and explicit consideration of the needs of patients with dementia.
Conclusions. LMT forms should be designed for clarity and consistency across HCOs. Enhancing patient care requires appropriate and sensitive completion of LMT. Relevant HCO policy and clinical practice changes are discussed herein, and recommendations are made for junior doctors in this arena, specifically in the context of patients with dementia.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberAHHA 2016
Pages (from-to)519-526
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Health Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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