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Plan care for person, not patient

The journey from normal to terminally ill is sometimes sudden, and can happen to even young people.  At least 70% of patients will be unable to make medical decisions for themselves during the final days of their lives. And that makes end-of-life planning conversations extremely important even for healthy individuals.


In a write up published in 'PolicyWise' Adam M. Pena, says National healthcare systems world over have begun encouraging doctors to have end-of-life planning conversations with patients. In the US, from January 2016, Medicare started reimbursing physicians for providing guidance about this type of planning.


Advance care planning also helps patients talk about top personal values, such as dignity and independence.


Much of advance care planning is focused on completing advance directives - 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 patients' behalf if they are unable to do so. 


Adam points out that advance directives fall short of capturing the person’s story. Advance directive tools must ask the right questions to help make care planning more about the person rather than preferences.


Advance directives are difficult to interpret or apply to real-life conditions. A directive cannot describe a person’s day-to-day life or the activities that make life meaningful for that person. 


Everyone has a story, and much like any story, our stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. With the help of well designed advance care planning tools patients will be able to author the end of their story by discussing values and preferences that can help guide future medical decision-making. 


-Original article by Adam M. Pena, M.A., instructor in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine


Read full story here


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