To die well, you need to plan well

Improving the communication and decision-making about medical treatment for patients at the end of their life is crucial to avoid needless suffering.

This is the view ofDarren K. Heyland (above), Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada, who will present a seminar – “To die well, you need to plan well: The importance of end of life communication and decision making” – at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus tomorrow (April 12).

“The problem starts with poor communication and decision-making about medical treatments during serious illness,” says Professor Heyland.

“This leads to the ‘intensification of care’ at the end of someone’s life, meaning many older patients who prefer a more comfortable, dignity-preserving pathway towards the ‘end,’ suffer needlessly in an intensive-care unit receiving aggressive forms of life-sustaining treatments and then, after all of that, they pass.

“This has a negative impact on the family who witness this ‘intensified’ death experience.

“It also impacts on the health care professionals with some even suffering from ‘moral distress’- thinking theymay’ve done the wrong thing,” Professor Heyland said.

Professor Heyland says there must be agreement on all sides.

“The patient should understand what treatments he or she is signing up for. Itshould be appropriate to the medical condition withclinicians weighing up the most appropriate treatment.

“Unfortunately, this is not happening”.

Professor Heyland said the lack of understanding about how decisions are made and the medical technologies that are on offer is a major hurdle.

“So something needs to be done to better prepare the patient toengage with the clinical team when they develop a serious illness.”

WHEN:Wednesday, April 12
TIME: 12pm – 1pm
WHERE: Gold Coast University Hospital, Large Lecture Theatre, PED Building
Video Conference: Robina RH-A-1-Admin Meeting Room 1