Innovator: Richard Szucs, MD
Position: Chairman, Honoring Choices® Virginia
VHIN: How do you define advance care planning?
RS: Advance care planning is the process whereby an individual plans ahead for how decisions regarding their health care will be made if they are unable to make those decisions for themselves. It is more than simply filling out a document. It involves an individual having conversations with their family or those closest to them and their health care providers about their beliefs and values and what type of care they want at the end of life. Those wishes are then expressed in an advance directive document and healthcare agent is designated to make decisions if the individual is unable to do so.
VHIN: Initiating advance care planning discussions with patients (and their family members) can be difficult, how is Honoring Choices training health care professionals for these situations?
RS: You are absolutely correct. Studies, including our own survey of the Richmond metropolitan area, show that while most people recognize that advance care planning is important, most do not have an advance directive and many of those who have one have not had a meaningful conversation...