More people are living longer with chronic illness as our population ages, making it increasingly vital for patients and family members to decide how they and their loved ones would like to spend their final days. For physicians in hospital and primary care settings alike, it is crucial to know how to address these issues with sensitivity.
A new conversation guide in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, written by Dr. John You of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, aims to guide physicians through these sensitive discussions with patients in hospital, and with their family members.
Dr. You and his colleagues created this conversation guide on behalf of the Canadian Researchers at the End of Life Network (CARENET). It provides practical advice in areas such as identifying patients at high risk of dying; communicating prognosis; clarifying patient values around their care plan; involving substitute-decision makers in care planning; and documenting a patient’s wishes.