Advance Care Planning Discussions: Why They Should Happen, Why They Don't, and How We Can Facilitate the Process.

Oncology (Williston Park, N.Y.)

PubMedID: 26281841

Norals TE, Smith TJ. Advance Care Planning Discussions: Why They Should Happen, Why They Don't, and How We Can Facilitate the Process. Oncology (Williston Park, NY). 2015;29(8):.
Recent data suggest that we are not successfully getting the message across about the importance of advance care planning for patients who have a life-ending illness. Half to three-quarters of patients with incurable cancer think that they might be cured by chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. The source of this denial may lie with them, it may be traceable to their physicians, or it may be a combination of the two. This avoidance has consequences, since those patients with "prognostic awareness" have end-of-life care pathways that involve little use of the hospital, ICU, end-of-life chemo, or "codes" with almost no chance of success, and much more dying at home with hospice care. If we can successfully initiate advance care planning discussions with our patients and families, their end-of-life processes will improve, resulting in better care, less use of the hospital, and more honoring of newly discerned choices. We show how this can be done in regular oncology practice by introducing the Johns Hopkins "Palliative Care Temporary Tattoo" and by providing some ways to discuss cardiopulmonary resuscitation in settings where it will not be helpful.