When I was working at a hospital earlier in my career, there was a patient who requested that his ventilator be turned off; the only thing keeping him alive. I soon came to realize that the hospital had no policies on end-of-life care and, so, I helped create them.
While the patient I referenced above was able to make his own decisions regarding his end-of-life care, many Americans do not have the same experience. This is why it is vitally important that Americans understand the importance of advanced care planning.
April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD). The AOA has joined the NHDD initiative in support of the nationwide effort to inform all Americans of the importance of documenting their health care preferences. Advanced care planning is more than just expressing what you do and do not want; it clarifies your values and lets you select a decision-making agent in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself.
As osteopathic physicians, we must take it upon ourselves to speak to all our patients about the importance of documenting future health care decisions and creating living wills. Please join the effort and educate your patients.