Did You Miss National Healthcare Decisions Day?

Did You Miss National Healthcare Decisions Day? Posted By:
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An important day on the calendar recently passed, and I am not talking about Tax Day. April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day, which “was founded in 2008 by attorney Nathan Kottkamp to provide clear, concise, and consistent information on values-based, healthcare decision-making for individuals, healthcare providers/facilities, and community leaders through the widespread availability and dissemination of simple, free, and uniform tools (not just forms) to guide the process.”

Why did Kottkamp pick April 16? To quote Benjamin Franklin: “[I]n this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” Therefore, the idea is that one would submit their taxes by April 15 and then evaluate their healthcare wishes on April 16. The Conversation Project from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement wants to normalize this—reviewing healthcare goals every year and recognizing these will change throughout one’s life. 

How many of us healthcare professionals (HCPs) even know this day exists? How many of us have thought about our own healthcare decisions, have spoken about our values/goals with our loved ones, or have chosen and informed a healthcare proxy? We are encouraged to counsel our patients to do this, but do we not think it is important enough for ourselves? I have met too many colleagues who refuse to confront their own mortality, let alone guide discussions with patients and loved ones to simply normalize death and dying. None of us is avoiding it. And guess what: Death has a 100% success rate. What am I asking you? Embrace the idea of a healthcare proxy—let us start there. Set an example for patients who value our advice. When you ask patients about who helps them with their decisions, you can share how important this decision is and acknowledge the weight of it.

Do not assume that anyone understands what we value as acceptable for our quality of life but discuss it often. Empower your person/people to advocate and receive recommendations from HCPs that align with your goals. As HCPs, this is what we would like to be able to do. Make recommendations that truly serve and support patients, where they are at and to help get them to where they want to be—whether that be a full recovery, compassionate end-of-life care, and everything in between. Embrace this responsibility and do not fear your own mortality. I have to believe it will make us all better.


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Filed under: Miscellaneous , NPs & PAs

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