October 21, 2014 – Advance Directives


Anchor lead:  Americans need to think about end-of-life care, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Do you have advance directives for your medical care at the end of life? Although most Americans don’t, that may soon change now that the Institute of Medicine has weighed in on the issues.  Thomas Smith, director of palliative care at Johns Hopkins, says death for the majority of us does not come suddenly, so planning is possible.

Smith: For most people, critical life-ending illness these days is not a surprise.  It is pancreas cancer.  It is lung cancer. Progressive congestive heart failure, progressive COPD, and those things all have an average survival but we don’t think of many of those diseases in that way.  What this report tried to do is emphasize that it’s okay to have these conversations. It’s okay to plan, that there’s a lot of good coming out of the planning process.    :29

Medical insurers and Medicare may soon facilitate matters by reimbursing physicians to take on these issues with their patients, with an eye toward providing both humane and desired medical treatments at the end of life.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.