Advance Care Plans Are Critical to Optimal Patient Care

In response to The New York Times’ opinion piece: Do Not Resuscitate

Emergency rooms, by definition, are hectic. COVID-19 is pushing these facilities to their limit and beyond. Even if we had all the PPE, ventilators and testing kits needed today, all too often our providers are still flying blind because they do not know the goals of care of the person they’re treating, nor who speaks for them if they cannot speak for themselves. 

If every American had an advance care plan – a document, statement or even a video message that accurately answers those two questions – that was immediately accessible in the medical record, doctors and nurses would have at least a fighting chance to honor a patient’s wishes, because they could find them in the first place.

Dr. Na’s plea deserves to be heard. Our health insurers, employers and public officials should step up to help make sure all adults have a plan that is updated and accessible when and if needed.

The consequences of not having an advance care plan are profound. If we ignore people’s wishes because we refuse to ask all Americans to create their own plan, we sow the seeds of mistrust that risks undermining faith in our entire healthcare system’s desire to be truly person-centered.

Jeff Zucker is CEO of ADVault, Inc. and creator of MyDirectives.com, the world’s leading all-digital advance care planning platform.