Online advance directive registries provide clarity on patient wishes
LETTER — Posted March 5, 2012
Regarding “Handful of states promise physicians online access to advance directives” (Article, Jan. 3): When very sick patients are unable to express their wishes toward the end of life, nothing is more heartbreaking for doctors and loved ones than not knowing what those wishes are. It’s up to grieving and frightened family members to try to recall a past conversation, or remember whether there’s an advance directive, and, if so, how to put their hands on it. Online registry programs for advance directives that give doctors access to this information would help ensure that we meet our patients’ wishes and that we don’t leave family members always questioning the decisions they were forced to make.
Patients need to hear from their doctors the importance of advance directives. They need to know that an advance directive can be changed, and that it can direct doctors to stop aggressive lifesaving treatments, or continue them. Most important, an advance directive needs to be readily accessible when you need it.
Online information is available from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (link).
There also is more information on advance directives online (link).
Ronald J. Crossno, MD, Temple, Texas
Editor’s note: The article cited appeared in our online edition only.
Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/03/05/edlt0305.htm.