Videos Make End-of-Life Choices Less Abstract

Jun 3, 2011 | 0 comments

CBS News recently ran a story about videos that detail end-of-life treatment options and give patients real-world examples to better inform their choices. These videos provide an eye-opening look at what really happens when your medical directives say “Do everything in your power to save me.”

25 percent of all Medicare spending, more than 100 billion dollars, is spent in the last year of life. Every year, patients are getting expensive, aggressive treatments that don’t save lives, and may actually prolong misery.

The videos come from the Nous Foundation, Inc. and Advanced Care Planning Decisions. The non-profit organization consists of a group of clinicians and researchers who want to empower patients with video decision aids. Their video support tools are carefully crafted after undergoing rigorous review by leading experts in medicine, geriatrics, oncology, palliative care, ethics, and decision-making.

Video decision aids effectively communicate and inform patients about their options at the end of life. ACP Decisions Patient Education Videos help patients make informed decisions with a series of narrative videos designed to educate patients about advance care planning and end-of-life care options.

This patient-centered supplemental tool reinforces information introduced by the clinician. The videos empower patients and their families to make informed decisions consistent with their values. They give insights into what really happens in the final days of an illness.

And what patients are seeing is giving them pause about resuscitation and intubation (being put on a ventilator for breathing).

The videos are making treatment options more real and less abstract for patients. Studies show that most patients who watch these videos change their minds about what they want and choose less aggressive care.

Palliative care, designed to make the patient comfortable in their final days, is so much more humane than inflicting treatments that only extend pain. I hope everyone who faces a terminal diagnosis (something we are all headed for at some point) has a chance to see these videos.

After all, as Wayne Dyer said, life itself is a terminal disease.

A Good Goodbye