End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

End-of-life Conversation Provision Fact Sheetby Blaine

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Seniors want to protect their loved ones from struggling with end-of-life decisions
because they aren’t clear on what Mom or Dad would want. If someday they can’t speak for
themselves, they want their families and their doctor to be clear about their values and
choices. Individuals are the best decision-makers when it comes to these very personal,
private health care choices. The Pew Research Center found 84% of Americans approve of
letting patients themselves decide about extraordinary treatments to prolong life.
http://tinyurl.com/pewcenter

Fact: Advance planning consultations are a completely voluntary, not mandatory.
Fact: No one will be forced to sign an advance care directive.
Fact: The consultation provision is endorsed by the Providence Health System, a Catholic
health care provider.
Fact: Only a doctor or nurse practitioner can provide counseling.

STUDIES: End-of-life discussions decrease suffering and distress for patients and loved ones
“The worst outcomes were seen in patients who did not report having these
conversations. By acknowledging that death is near, patients, caregivers, and physicians
can focus on clarifying patients’ priorities and improving pain and symptom management.”

Hospice patients live longer
“This study provides important information to dispel the myth that hospice hastens
death and suggests that hospice is related with the longer length of survival by days or
months in certain terminally ill patients. This extra time might be particularly important to
patients and their families, as it may allow some people to use the end of life as a time of
resolution and closure.”

End-of-life discussion only taking place about half the time
“Many patients diagnosed as having metastatic lung cancer had not discussed
hospice with a provider within 4 to 7 months after diagnosis. Increased communication with
physicians could address patients’ lack of awareness about hospice and misunderstandings
about prognosis.”

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