Beyond directives: advance care plans must consider patient’s story

Planning for end-of-life medical treatment has received national attention as a “hot topic” recently.


Adam M. PenaBaylor College Of Medicine


The Institute of Medicine (IOM) called for a restructuring of the national healthcare system to encourage doctors to have end-of-life planning conversations with their patients. In January 2016, Medicare also started reimbursing physicians for providing guidance about this type of planning.

End-of-life planning for medical treatment is more commonly known as advance care planning. Advance care planning helps clarify what medical treatment patients would and would not want at the end-of-life. Further, advance care planning helps patients talk about which personal values, like dignity and independence, are most important.

Much of the attention that advance care planning receives is focused on the importance of completing advance directives, which are legal documents that indicate the individual’s preferences for medical treatment at the end-of-life or designate an individual to make medical decisions on behalf of the patient if he or she is unable to do so.

Given that 70 percent of patients will be unable to make medical decisions for themselves during the final days of their lives, this kind of preparation is undeniably important. full article