National Healthcare Decisions Day stresses open dialogue forum

| April 19, 2012 | 0 Comments

­Lt. Col. Matthew Studer
Tripler Army Medical Center



HONOLULU — Tripler Army Medical Center will join other health care facilities around the country this Monday, April 16, to recognize the fifth Annual National Healthcare Decisions Day, a day intended to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance health care planning.

Too often, patients and their family members do not communicate their concerns, values and wishes regarding future health care decisions with their health care providers.

All patients have the right, as set forth by Congress in the 1990 Patient Self-Determination Act, to articulate their future health care wishes in writing in the form of an “advance directive.”

Patients should be empowered and encouraged to openly communicate their wishes regarding future health care and/or end-of-life care they would like to receive. Also, they have the right to designate a family member, relative or friend to speak on their behalf, if unable to do so.

These wishes may be formally documented in an advance directive, which is a legal document reflecting these advance care decisions.

According to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, less than half of severely or terminally ill patients evaluated in a study had an advance directive in their medical record, and only 12 percent of patients with an advance directive had received input from their physician in its development.

Also, between 65 and 76 percent of physicians whose patients had an existing advance directive were not aware that it existed.

National Healthcare Decisions Day serves as an important day to recognize that early health care discussions and decisions are important and will positively impact both the care we give and the care we receive.

(Editor’s Note: Lt. Col. Matthew Studer is the chief of Pediatric Cardiology and associate chair of the Ethics Committee at Tripler Army Medical Center.)

Tripler AMC advance care

Want more information on National Healthcare Decisions Day or how to create an advance directive?

Representatives from TAMC’s hospital ethics team will be available at both hospital entrances, 8 a.m.-noon, April 16, to provide information and answer questions.

Additional discussions about advance health care decisions is scheduled for noon-1 p.m., April 18, noon-1 p.m. in the 10th floor Oceanside conference room.

Everyone is welcome.

For more information on National Healthcare Decisions Day, visit

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