Where Everyone is Comfortable Talking About End-of-Life Issues & Its Healthcare Costs are the Lowest in the Nation
Planet Money reports that La Crosse,
Wisconsin used to be just like everywhere else – a place where no one talked about death or end-of-life issues – until one man made the conversation comfortable.
Bud Hammes, a medical ethicist at the local hospital, was used to having difficult discussions with families when their loved one’s had had a stroke, were in a coma or had had horrible accidents. Those discussions were fearful and difficult. The families suffered tremendously under the burden of the decision-making. Bud realized that having the conversation earlier, when death wasn’t at the doorstep, would ease that strain and lead to better decision making.
The change was simple: nurses started asking patients, “If you reach a point where treatments will extend your life by a few months and side effects are pretty serious, would you want doctors to stop, or continue to do all that could be done? And a lot of patients said: Stop.” That got people to fill out an Advance Directive and started the whole town talking.
Today Planet Money reports that “neighbors gossip about who on the block hasn’t filled out their Advance Directive” and the hospital’s CEO says, “It turns out that if you allow patients to choose and direct their care, then often they choose a course that is much less expense.”
While reducing health care costs wasn’t Bud Hammes objective, it is a huge side benefit for a town now willing to talk about death comfortably and easily.
If you’d like to have that easy conversation, Y Collaborative is here to help. We can facilitate the discussion with your family and have a workbook that has the questions you may want to consider and answer.
Click here if you’d like a consultation to start the conversation.
Click here if you’d like to order a workbook.
For more on this story, go to Planet Money http://tinyurl.com/n3ht749
Tags: Advance Directive, End-of-Life Issues, Planet Money, La Crosse, Wisconsin, Lowest Health Care Costs