When patients have conversations with their loved ones and health care team about their wishes, they’re taking an important step. In the event of a serious illness or injury, this communication will guide us in providing treatment that respects their values and preferences. However, fewer than one-third of physicians report having any formal training in communication about goals of care and advance care planning with their patients, and nearly half report that they are unsure about what to say. Read the study
Start by asking patients what matters to them through the end of their life. This question can help them (and you as a medical provider) start this important conversation. Together as a team, you can help them participate in shared decision-making about tests, treatments, and care plans based on good medicine and the patient’s values and preferences. This is the basis of advance care planning.