Korean J Hosp Palliat Care.  2020 Jun;23(2):85-92. 10.14475/kjhpc.2020.23.2.85.

Life-Sustaining Treatment in End-Stage Liver Disease Patients: Patients’ Decisions and Results

  • 1Department of Nursing, Asan Medical Center, Korea
  • 2Department of Clinical Nursing, University of Ulsan, Seoul, Korea


In 2018, the Act on Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment for Patients in Hospice and Palliative Care or at the End of Life was implemented and the scope of official recognition for terminally ill patients was expanded. The purpose of this study was to investigate the decisions made by patients with end-stage liver disease about their life-sustaining treatment in a clinical setting.
The subjects of this study were patients with endstage liver disease hospitalized at a tertiary hospital in Seoul, Korea who wrote physician orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST). Data collection was done using patients’ electronic medical records, and a retrospective analysis of POLST was conducted.
Among 101 patients, 18.8% were female and 81.2% were male, and their mean age was 61.8 (±10.61) years. Sixty-three patients (62.4%) wrote their POLST by themselves. Three patients withdrew the POLST, of whom two did so for liver transplantation, and one did so for chemotherapy.
This study shows that sufficient consideration of liver transplantation is needed for end-stage liver disease patients before making decisions on life-sustaining treatment. The self-determination of patients must be respected and effective guidelines are urgently needed.


Advance directives; Life support care; Terminal care; End stage liver disease; Liver transplantation
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