Who makes the decisions, you or the doctor?
You consult a doctor who suggests tests and treatments that appear to be medically indicated in your situation. It is your choice to accept what the professional has proposed or not, based on your past experience, beliefs, knowledge, constraints, values and life goals. You work together to find common ground that respects your desires within the framework of what is medically acceptable and make your decision jointly based on free and informed consent. To guide your care, the doctor looks at your healthcare goals and the level of care you need. The doctor will try to clarify your goals for the care that we can give you.
Here are three examples that help to explain the subject:
• The goal of a healthy young person is generally the longest lifespan. She is ready to do anything to preserve her most precious possession, life itself.
• For someone with declining autonomy, the greatest wellbeing could be the objective to aim for. Simple treatments remain acceptable, but not those that are more invasive and unpleasant.
• Finally, someone in the terminal stage of cancer would probably choose maximum comfort, wanting everything possible to ease his suffering, even if it might shorten his life.
The terminology might vary from one place to another, but the idea is the same – adapt your care to your own preferences. It is also the time to clarify what you think about resuscitation attempts in the case that your heart stops. These are delicate questions, but it is important to contemplate them while in good health.
For help in how to start thinking about this subject, you can refer to the sample form “Your Healthcare Goals” below. A doctor from the CSSS des Sommets or your family physician can provide you with a paper copy, help you to fill it out and send a copy to the hospital so that it can be included in your medical file.
Consult the form “Your Healthcare Objectives”