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Goals of care change when treatment is no longer working, and cure is unlikely. End-of-life care decisions focus on comfort and quality of life.
Planning for end-of-life care is important. It helps you:
Common symptoms during end of life include:
Medical interventions may include:
Advance care planning allows patients and caregivers to state their values and desires related to medical care at the end of life.
Palliative care specialists can prepare you for different situations that could happen. They can help you understand choices.
You may wish to talk with the palliative care team to create an advance directive. An advance directive is a written statement of how someone wants medical care provided if they:
Putting requests in writing can help communicate goals of care. Written orders may be referred to as a DNR or a POST form. Some providers use both terms. They are both orders that record wishes for care.
Comfort care is still provided, including pain medicines. This is important to note because some families avoid placing orders for fear that their child will suffer.
These advance care plans may also be called Physician/Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST/ MOLST). These orders are especially important if the patient is getting care at home.
In the hospital, orders are in the patient’s electronic medical record (EMR). When the patient is at home, it is important to have the advance care document there for outside medical providers such as emergency medical services (EMS) or hospice.
The palliative care team can help families decide how patients can have the fullest life possible during end-of-life care. This may include:
Tools to help include:
Read more about decisions during end-of-life care:
The Together by St. Jude™ online resource does not endorse any branded product mentioned in this article.
Reviewed: November 2023