Tuesday, March 27, 2018 10:00 AM

YOU’VE DETAILED YOUR LAST WISHES, BUT DOCTORS MAY NOT SEE THEM

Something had gone wrong. And though it would be easy to blame the oncologist for not sending the patient home with a legally binding directive documenting his end-of-life wishes, or the emergency doctors for not searching harder in the chart, its not that simple. As it usually is with a surgery performed on the wrong side of the patients body or a medication thats prescribed despite a known allergy, the problem here is not about individuals, but instead about a system that doesnt sufficiently protect patients from getting care they do not want.

Increasingly, doctors like me are trained to have frank, hard conversations with our patients about prognosis and care goals. Outside the hospital, people with serious illnesses are encouraged to discuss these issues with their friends and family. But what happens after?

Its tempting to assume that if you tell one doctor what you want at the end of your life, thats enough what you want will be clearly documented and retrievable when it is needed, and the record will follow you wherever you go. Yet this critical information is sometimes not documented even when conversations do ...

News source: The New York Times

See also: Steven Enrich