How to Talk with Your Healthcare Providers

Talking with your doctor or healthcare providers about your end-of-life wishes is a discussion to have before a crisis occurs. When you discuss your concerns and choices:

  • Ask your doctor to explain treatments and procedures that may seem confusing before you complete your advance care plan.
  • Talk about pain management options.
  • Let your doctor know that you are completing your advance care plan and make sure that he or she is willing to follow it. The law does not force physicians to follow your plan if they disagree with your wishes for moral or ethical reasons.
  • Give your doctor a copy of your advance care plan. Make sure your doctor knows the name and telephone number of your appointed healthcare agent (or surrogate decision maker).
  • Assure your doctor that your family and your appointed healthcare agent know your wishes.

You may ask your doctor specifically:

  • Will you talk openly and candidly with me and my family about my illness?
  • What decisions will my family and I have to make, and what kinds of recommendations will you give to help us make these decisions?
  • What will you do if I have a lot of pain or other uncomfortable symptoms?
  • How will you help us find excellent professionals with special training when we need them (e.g., medical, surgical and palliative care specialists, faith leader, social workers, etc.)?
  • Will you let me know if treatment stops working so that my family and I can make appropriate decisions?
  • Will you still be available to me even when I am close to the end of my life?

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