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Medical Treatment Options

Advance care planning is designed to outline your future medical choices. Understanding your medical treatment options will help clarify your wishes and values.

Factors to consider when choosing medical treatment options include:

  • When to start treatment
  • When to stop, or not start, treatment
  • Establishing the goals of treatment
  • How and when to use comfort measures

Medical Treatment Options

Medical treatment options are characterized as either lifesaving or life sustaining. These medical treatment options may include antibiotics, IV hydration and nutritional support, kidney or renal dialysis, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and intubation/ventilation.

Your decision to accept or forego each of these treatment options must be considered in relation to your health, personal values, and wishes. While you may choose to forego treatment and “let nature take its course,” others may find it unacceptable to withhold treatment without understanding first that it is your wish.

Deciding What Medical Option is Right for You

Making decisions about future medical care requires much discussion and reflection and can be a very emotional process. Talking with your healthcare providers and your family can give you perspective and valuable information, but you need to make decisions that are right for you.

This is an ongoing process. What is right for you now may not be right six months or 10 years from now. Some questions to ask include:

  • What experiences have you had with a loved one or close friend who faced decisions about a life-sustaining treatment and what did you learn from that?
  • When would I want life-sustaining treatment and under what circumstances would I want it stopped?
  • What do the terms, a good life, or living well, mean to me at this point in my life?

Once you have considered your options and decided upon your ideal end-of-life care, the next steps are to clarify your wishes by drafting medical directives.