According to a national survey conducted by The Conversation Project, 90 percent of people say that talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important, but only 27 percent have actually had that discussion. The California HealthCare Foundation reports that 82 percent of people believe it is important to put their wishes in writing, yet only 23 percent actually have written documents. Joining the efforts to spread the importance of conversations about end-of-life care, Licking Memorial Health Systems (LMHS) is now offering a free program to answer your questions about Advance Care Planning (ACP). ACP is an ongoing process that reflects on your goals, values, and beliefs to help guide your current and future health care. To ensure personal wishes about current and future health care are followed and respected, individuals are encouraged to both personally reflect and discuss with their loved ones what type of care they would want if seriously ill, what fears they have about becoming seriously ill, and what beliefs guide their decisions. The ACP program will help you learn about medical options, how to make informed decisions, and how to choose a loved one to make decisions if incapacitated.
Such planning can be completed at any time, including when you are young and healthy. The plan can and should be revisited, especially if there is a significant change in medical condition. ACP allows individuals to receive medical care that is consistent with their wishes, and reduces burden on family members.
Choosing a trusted and reliable loved one to make decisions in the event you are incapacitated is a key component of successful ACP. In addition, it is imperative to communicate with the designated loved one on a regular basis about your values, beliefs, wishes and medical treatment goals, as these may change over time.
Advance directives also play a role in ACP. These are written documents designed to allow you to guide future healthcare decisions in the event you are incapacitated and unable to participate in those decisions. Such documents include:
• State of Ohio Health Care Power of Attorney – A document that allows an individual to name a person to make healthcare decisions for them in the event they are unable to do so themselves.
• State of Ohio Living Will Declaration – A document that allows one to state in advance what type of medical care is desired if they become permanently unconscious or terminally ill and unable to express such wishes to a healthcare provider or loved one.
• State of Ohio Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Identification Form – A document that instructs healthcare providers not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if their heart or breathing stops.
ACP offers numerous benefits. For individuals, it allows the end-of-life experience and death to be on their own terms while limiting conflict with family and healthcare providers. For families, being aware of a loved one’s wishes reduces the burden and dissatisfaction with the healthcare system commonly experienced when faced with making decisions during a crisis. Familiarity with a patient’s wishes permits healthcare providers, even new ones met during a health crisis, to give the most appropriate care.
Please call (220) 564-4004 to schedule a free private consultation with Dr. Eric Pacht, Director of Biomedical Ethics at Licking Memorial Hospital (LMH). Individuals will have a private discussion with Dr. Pacht and learn about advance care planning and advance directives, as well as obtain answers to any questions about current and future health concerns. Dr. Pacht has over 35 years of experience as a pulmonary and critical care physician, and was the Medical Director of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at LMH for more than 10 years. As a pulmonary and critical care physician, he cared for hundreds of patients at the end of their lives, and also has a long time interest and involvement with biomedical ethics, advance care planning, advance directives and end-of-life care.