Letters to the Editor

Strategy for Facilitating Advance Directive Completion Among Patients



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Am Fam Physician. 2012 Aug 15;86(4):318.

Original Article: Implementing Advance Directives in Office Practice

Issue Date: March 1, 2012

Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2012/0301/p461.html

to the editor: I am a member of the Ethics Committee of Wausau Aspirus Hospital in Wausau, Wis. For several years, the committee has designated the first Thursday of the month as “Thoughtful Thursday” to serve anyone in the area who wishes to complete an advance directive. Thirty-minute appointments are available from noon to 4 p.m. on those days. The appointments are staffed by two committee members, or other knowledgeable volunteers, to help community members discuss or complete their documents. We provide copies as needed for them. These services are all provided by the hospital at no charge.

Our approach eliminates the need for the physician to spend time in the office completing advance directive documents. Copies of the documents are regularly sent to physicians' offices, and include referral information about Thoughtful Thursday to give to patients. Local physicians are aware of this service and use it extensively. We publicize the service in hospital and patient literature and through local news outlets, as well as in mailings to other health care professionals in the community (e.g., visiting nurse associations, psychologists, social workers, outpatient therapy offices).

This system gives community members the opportunity to spend as much time as needed to review or complete advance directives. It also frees up the physician from lengthy discussions during busy office hours.

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations to disclose.

Send letters to Kenneth W. Lin, MD, MPH, Associate Deputy Editor for AFP Online, e-mail: afplet@aafp.org, or 11400 Tomahawk Creek Pkwy., Leawood, KS 66211-2680.

Please include your complete address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Letters should be fewer than 400 words and limited to six references, one table or figure, and three authors.

Letters submitted for publication in AFP must not be submitted to any other publication. Possible conflicts of interest must be disclosed at time of submission. Submission of a letter will be construed as granting the American Academy of Family Physicians permission to publish the letter in any of its publications in any form. The editors may edit letters to meet style and space requirements.



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