A useful tool available at this time is a 10-page form called Five Wishes, which can be obtained from a national nonprofit organization called Aging With Dignity (fivewishes.org). The form covers appointing an agent to make health care decisions, the level of care desired, and other aspects of end-of-life care. It is meant to be done without lawyers, and needs a simple witness rather than a notary.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 30 – No 08 – August 2011
Appointing an agent is probably the most critical decision, to avoid the “cousin from Kalamazoo” swooping in with demands and creating turmoil.
Currently in development, new computer apps will walk patients and survivors through the process with scenarios and questions.
But we emergency physicians must still be ready to help, and we’re there to “strike while the iron is hot.”
We can make a difference, we often care more than the other specialists, and we have the tools.
Frame this as a plan for the survivors, and resistance melts away, in my experience. Try it.
Dr. Davis is an emergency physician with the Barnes-Jewish Health System, St. Louis. He is also an attorney and Fellow of ACEP.