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Physicians need to speak up about advance directives


I know I wrote last week about advance directives, but the rhetoric surrounding this issue has only I feel the need to address this further.

Anti-reform extremists continue to whip folks into a fear frenzy conflating advance directives with euthanasia.  Sarah Palin has even jumped on the crazy train saying last week "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

Let me not mince words.  The reform legislation does not call for a "death panel,"  there is NO state mandated euthanasia and NO ONE is taking away the power of physicians and patients to make decisions about end of life care based on cost.  Read more about Sarah Palin's false claims.

This is a CLEAR opportunity for physicians to educate the public about advance directives and what they really mean for care planning.  Advanced directives give you the patient the opportunity to plan ahead....discuss what you might want for your final months, weeks and hours.  It is an extremely personal and sensitive that takes time to discuss and lay out the situation and the options.    Think of it as you would a will.  You hope for the best in terms of medial outcomes, but it is important to also plan for the worst.

I thought ABC News did a decent segment on the issue.  Worth taking a look.

I know from personal experience as a physician that advance directives have helped my patients have an increased quality of life in their final weeks because they were at home surrounded by family instead of a sterile hospital room.  It was not about saving was about honoring a patient's wish.  If I hadn't had a conversation about it, my patients would not have realized that being at home was even possible.

The folks that continue to spread this fear certainly do not understand medicine, care planning, or the importance of knowing your options.

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