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Am J Geriatr Cardiol. 2004 Nov-Dec;13(6):316-20.

Advance care planning.

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  • 1The Program in Medical Ethics, the Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, USA.


Advance directives allow patients to have some control over decisions even when they are no longer able to make decisions themselves. All states authorize written advance directives, such as the appointment of a health care proxy, but commonly impose procedural requirements. Some states have restricted the use of oral advance directives, although they are frequently used in everyday practice. Advance directives are limited because they are infrequently used, may not be informed, and may conflict with the patient's current best interests. Moreover, surrogates often cannot state patients' preferences accurately. Furthermore, discussions among physicians and patients about advance directives are flawed. Physicians can improve discussions about advance directives by asking the patient who should serve as proxy and by ascertaining the patient's values and general preferences before discussing specific clinical situations.

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