Christopher Cox, MD, associate professor of medicine (Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine), director of the Duke Medical Intensive Care Unit and director of the Duke Program to Support People and Enhance Recovery, is Duke Today's Blue Devil of the Week.
“In the Medical Intensive Care Unit, you experience everything from the highest high to the lowest low, often within the same hour. More people die here than any other place in the hospital. There is no denying that there can be intense grief, though I feel that it is our great privilege to at least try our best to help the patient and family as best we can," Dr. Cox said. "We built this web-based application that helps people make decisions on behalf of a loved one who is too ill to do it for themselves because they require life support. We did this because it is so common to see families going through a completely otherworldly experience that is stressful and anxiety-provoking. In this situation, it’s easy for the family members who are acting as substitute decision-makers to project their own beliefs and values on the situation instead of thinking about the decision from the perspective of the patient. The application is very graphics-based and helps people navigate a very complex decision about life support. This can help the medical team understand what is on their mind, and might improve communication, reduce conflict and maybe even reduce anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder among family members.”