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National Healthcare Decisions Day: What to Know About Advance Care Planning

April 14, 2022

In honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16, Justin W. Wray, M.D. Ph.D. , of Texas Oncology–Waco discusses advance care planning and why patients should know and understand all of their available options when considering future medical decisions on behalf of loved ones.

What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning is the process of discovering and understanding the choices that patients have concerning their future medical care. Specifically, these directives help determine how each of us would like to be treated if we cannot communicate ourselves. Depending on the specific life situation, this may be vastly different from patient to patient.

What are advanced care directives?

Advanced care directives are documents that allow patients to clearly lay out their preferences for medical treatment and care at the end of their life if they are unable to communicate.

“Exploring all of your options can help you and your loved ones make well-informed decisions on how you would like to be treated both now and, in the future, if circumstances change."

Why is it important to explore all your options when planning?

It is important for patients to know and understand what is available to them regarding their medical care. Exploring all your options can help you and your loved ones make well-informed decisions on how you would like to be treated both now and, in the future, if circumstances change.

Who should be involved in my advanced care planning considerations?

In addition to the patient, there may be a whole cancer care team who can offer assistance including physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers, and clinical nurse specialists. All these medical professionals can provide answers as to how they would expect situations to unfold.

What are common misconceptions of advance care planning?

The most common misconception of advance care planning is that we are giving up or planning to stop any treatment. While this may be the outcome that some patients reach, more commonly it means that patients are prepared for things in the future, which allows for greater peace of mind that their decisions will be their own and their family and friends won’t be tasked with difficult decisions. Whether it is tomorrow or years from now, advance care planning helps patients, their loved ones, and their care teams prepare for any situation.


For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.