AAFP Advocacy Focus: End-of-Life Care
Informing and supporting a patient’s care decisions at the end of life — including what, if any, life-sustaining treatments will be undertaken — is among the family physician’s responsibilities in his or her partnership with a patient.
The AAFP endorses end-of-life care that embodies several core principles:
- Respect the dignity of patients and caregivers.
- Be sensitive to and respectful of the patient’s and the family’s wishes.
- Use the most appropriate measures that are consistent with patient and surrogate choices.
- Pain alleviation and the management of other physical symptoms are high priorities.
- Recognize, assess, and address the associated psychological, social, and spiritual/religious issues, as well as any cultural taboos, factoring into the patient's wishes.
- Ensure appropriate continuity of care by the patient’s family physician and, when applicable, any consulting physician.
- Advocate for the patient’s right to choose any therapy that may reasonably be expected to improve the patient’s quality of life, including alternative or nontraditional treatments.
- Provide access to palliative care and hospice care.
- Respect the right to refuse treatment.
- Respect the physician’s professional judgment and recommendations, with consideration for both patient and family preferences.
- Consider clinical and evidence-based research and education relative to providing care at the end of life.
Why We Fight
The American Academy of Family Physicians believes that each individual has the right to decide what medical treatment he or she will receive — including at the end of life.
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