The Patient Preferences Project

The Patient Preferences Project, led by vascular surgeon and medical ethicist Margaret “Gretchen” Schwarze, MD, MPP, helps older patients who are considering major surgery make decisions that are in line with their values, goals and preferences.

Why? Although surgery can improve symptoms and prolong life, for many older patients — especially those with multiple chronic health problems — it can also result in serious complications, a loss of independence or a significant decrease in quality of life. For those patients, the decision to have surgery can start a course of care that may lead to prolonged life support, long-term care in a nursing home, or other potentially unwanted outcomes.

The Patient Preferences Project team develops tools to help patients and surgeons communicate more clearly before surgery, so that patients can better understand what their lives might look like after surgery — and make the choice that’s right for them.

Dr. Schwarze talking to patient