Wednesday, April 19, 2017

It is South Carolina Health Care Decisions Week!

From Dr. John Ropp, CSI Chairman:

During the month of April, we celebrate South Carolina Health Care Decisions Week which takes places April 16-22. During this week, we remind all South Carolinians of the importance of making their health care decisions known. As physicians, it is important that we make our health care decisions known as well.

As a part of the SCMA Board of Trustees and my role as the chairman of the Coalition for the Care of the Seriously Ill (CSI), I have had the privilege of being involved in a new venture of helping define Advance Care Planning (ACP) in our state. I would like to tell you more about it so you can share this critical information with your patients.

Like financial planning is good for your money decisions, Advance Care Planning is good for your health and health care decisions!  Even though it is available to all patients, ACP is currently covered as a Medicare insurance benefit, so this is particularly good news for you if you have Medicare.

What is ACP specifically?  It is a process that helps you consider the type of healthcare choices you would want if you are not able to make decisions for yourself.  ACP includes having conversations about your current and future health, your personal beliefs and values that affect your health, and thinking about those who will support you during your lifetime.  ACP decisions will be made clear to your chosen decision-maker, other loved ones, and the physician so that everyone understands and will honor your wishes. 

As a physician, you discuss the importance of this with your patients almost daily. But as a physician, you also need to make sure you are discussing your future health care choices with your loved ones as well and even complete an advance directive.  An annual review is especially important if you have had a change in your health condition or you have had a change in your family relationships.  Taking time to review these important issues can help you understand your current health care choices and how these choices may affect you and your loved ones in the near future.  Think of it as a gift to your loved ones!  It makes them aware of what treatments you would want when you are unable to speak for yourself.

Thank you for taking care of our state’s patients. But, I encourage you to make your health care wishes known today, too.