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POST offers patients end-of-life control

After reading the editorial “End-of-life decisions must not be coerced” by Ben Mattlin (July 9), we believe it’s important to inform the community of current efforts by the Northeast Indiana Coalition for Advance Care Planning. We share with Mattlin a number of concerns. We agree that the Physician Order for Scope of Treatment requires careful consideration. We agree that POST is part of a broader approach to advance care planning, that it must be the result of an informed conversation between a medical professional and a patient (or their proxy), and that the form must be voluntary. To these ends, NICA has been involved in a recent initiative to train medical providers (social workers, nurses, physicians and clergy members) on how to have thorough, meaningful conversations regarding end-of-life care choices. This initiative was started with the passing of legislation for the POST form in 2012 but centers on encouraging patients to have meaningful conversations with not only their physician but their loved ones as well.

On May 28, NICA hosted a Respecting Choices facilitator training for 20 local health care providers. Respecting Choices, out of La Crosse, Wisconsin, has a history of success in improving community advance care planning. According to a recent analysis, 96 percent of patients who died in the La Crosse community had completed some type of advance care planning, compared with a national average of around 50 percent. During the Respecting Choices training, participants were given tools to have meaningful conversations with patients and their family members and also help patients make informed choices based on their own goals, values and current medical condition(s). The purpose is not to avoid costly treatments or pressure patients to make treatment decisions; the goal is simply to help patients get the kind of care they want and help them communicate what they want to their family, friends and health care team.

For more information on NICA and current community efforts, please contact Katelyn Hougham at katelynhougham@vnfw.org or 260-435-3204.

ABRAHAM SCHWAB and KATELYN HOUGHAM

Fort Wayne

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