The form no one likes to talk about

No one wants to think about what might happen if they can’t make their own medical decisions

By: Paige Parrinelli

No one wants to think about what might happen if they can’t make their own medical decisions. Advance directives ensure patients still have a say in their own care should they become incapacitated. To encourage more people to complete these forms, UF Health has launched a communitywide effort to help health care professionals, patients and families better understand the importance of advance care planning.

Co-chaired by Anne Meiring, a senior quality improvement specialist in the UF Health Clinical Quality and Patient Safety department, and Anthony Clarizio, the executive director of UF Health Shands HomeCare and ElderCare of Alachua County, and the team created a new packet that makes it easier for patients and families to understand advance directives and to complete the forms.    

Educational seminars are offered twice a month throughout the community. Participants learn the importance of two documents: the health care surrogate and living will forms, so that adults may name the person they want to speak for them if they are unable to speak for themselves and so their preferences for the care they wish to receive or not receive are known. They also learn about how to have the conversation with family and
friends. For many, this is often
the hardest part. 

Systemwide education also is being provided to staff members to ensure they complete their own advance directives and are able to assist all adult patients in completing theirs. Upon completion, the forms are entered into the electronic medical record.