One New York-based physicians’ organization is starting to have discussions with all of its adult patients regarding end-of-life care after the director’s father died without being able to speak or move. Medicare has also introduced a new policy known as advanced care planning that pays nurse practitioners, physician assistants and doctors $86 for a session of up to half an hour discussing end-of-life wishes. However, many physicians say that this is unlikely to significantly increase the number of doctors willing to have this conversation with their patients.
One issue is that doctors are simply not trained to do so. The New York organization uses a booklet that helps medical professionals work through various points such as whether the patient wants end-of-life care and who they would choose to make decisions regarding their medical care. Some medical schools are also training doctors now in how to conduct end-of-life conversations.