Advance Care Planning are conversations between a patient, family or healthcare agent, and a healthcare provider about future healthcare decisions that may need to be made if the patient is suddenly ill or injured and unable to make their own medical decisions. These discussions will often result in Advance Directives which are written documents naming a medical power of attorney, directing the type of care one wishes to receive through a living will, or implementing transportable medical orders if the patient has an advanced disease.
The first Advance Care Planning conversation may occur when the patient is younger and healthier. It will likely be a conversation with the patient, a potential healthcare agent and a healthcare professional or trained volunteer. The goal of this conversation is to establish who the patient wants as a medical power of attorney and how they would want to be cared for if they were suddenly ill or injured, unlikely to recover and unable to express their wishes.
A more detailed conversation should take place with a patient at the time of a serious injury or illness diagnosis. This conversation will include the patient, the healthcare agent if already named in a medical power of attorney or the family member identified as the legal surrogate decision maker under South Dakota Law, and a healthcare provider. This conversation will focus on the patient’s values, hopes, worries, and goals for future healthcare as they live with this serious illness or injury. One may be referred to a palliative care specialist at this time.
As the patient’s condition worsens or a terminal diagnosis occurs, additional conversations take place with the patient, if able, the legal surrogate/healthcare power of attorney and a provider or palliative care specialist. These conversations will focus on symptom management, benefits and burdens of care options and how this relates to the patient’s overall goal and creating transportable medical orders when appropriate.
Below, you will find documents used in South Dakota, tools to help you with the advance care planning conversations and some organizations that help with training, promoting and documenting advance care planning.