How patients’ wishes can be respected and upheld when the patient is no longer able to communicate their preferences is explained by Dr Ellie Mein.
Often, it can often be difficult to broach the subject of end-of-life care with a patient who has a life-limiting or terminal illness.
Patients may want to discuss the progress of their condition and the limits of available treatments.
But even if they don’t raise the subject, if the patient’s condition makes it likely that they could lose consciousness or mental capacity, then it makes sense to gently initiate a conversation.
This can be as part of a wider discussion about their wishes regarding future care, so they have time to make an informed advanced decision about their treatment.