The result of all this attention is that nearly all adults who die in La Crosse, 96 percent of them, die with a completed advance directive. That’s by far the highest rate in the country.
Note this doesn’t say that these folks died without care, it doesn’t even mention what those advanced directives are. It doesn’t matter, it’s that these folks have had the opportunity to explore their desires and wishes about how to proceed at the end of their lives. And it is done before the end is nigh, giving folks enough time to thoroughly think through what they truly want. Plus it gives them a facilitator who can answer their questions, refer them to other resources in the community to understand what they are deciding.
That’s the whole idea behind the proposal within the health care bills about end-of-life counseling. In the case here,
But it’s expensive to spend time with patients filling out living wills. Medicare doesn’t reimburse for the time the hospital’s nurses, chaplains and social workers do this. Bud Hammes, the medical ethicist who started the program, called Respecting Choices, says it costs the hospital system millions of dollars a year. “We just build it into the overhead of the organization. We believe it’s part of good patient care. We believe that our patients deserve to have an opportunity at least to have these conversations.”
It’s not about “death panels”, it’s not about deciding how much to do at the end of life, it is about choices and the opportunity to make informed decisions about their choices. That’s what so many people who are vehemently against the idea don’t understand.
I think it is just a good idea.