Lancaster Physician Summer 2021 - 12

L A N CA S TERMED I CALSO C IET Y. O R G
Best Practices Practice Management Insights
ADDRESSING THE ISSUES, CHALLENGES, AND OPPORTUNITIES THAT IMPACT TODAY'S MEDICAL PRACTICES
HOW TO TALK TO PATIENTS ABOUT
End of Life
REAGAN HAUER,
Medical Services Manager, Hospice & Community Care
P
hysicians, at some point in their careers, will be faced with the
uncomfortable task of talking to their patients about end of life.
Physicians are taught to focus on curative treatment options for
their patients and may hesitate bringing up end of life because they
sincerely want to preserve hope for a cure. They may also continue to
pursue treatment because they think that is what the patient and family
want. By prolonging the conversation, though, physicians may be doing
more unintended harm than good.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS FOR HOW TO TALK TO PATIENTS
AND THEIR FAMILIES ABOUT END OF LIFE.
COMMUNICATE EARLY AND OFTEN
According to a national survey by The Conversation Project, more than
90 percent of people think it is important to talk about their loved ones'
and their own wishes for end-of-life care, however, less than 30 percent
of people actually do talk about it. Don't wait until the diagnosis of a
life-limiting disease to have the first conversation with patients about end
of life. Planning for end of life is important at any time and at any age.
Talk to patients about the importance of advance care planning and
how it allows them to decide in advance what care they want to receive
if they become seriously ill and unable to speak for themselves. Rather
than leave their treatment options up to others, they are able to take
their personal values and preferences into account and eliminate the
uncertainty for physicians and family members.
Some examples for how to begin the conversation include:
- Based on what we know now about your condition, it is important
for me to know what kind of care you would want if you become sicker.
Would it be ok to discuss that?
LANCASTER 12 PHYSICIAN

Lancaster Physician Summer 2021

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