New Hampshire Participates in National Promotion for Advance Healthcare Decisions

A new study released today by the Foundation for Healthy Communities found that only 35 percent of 1,473 patients, from all 26 community hospitals in New Hampshire, had advance directive information in their medical chart while in the hospital.  An advance directive guides care when a person lacks the capacity to make their own health care decisions. 

The Foundation for Healthy Communities and many other organizations in New Hampshire will observe National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16th in an effort to highlight the importance of advance healthcare directives. 

National Healthcare Decisions Day is a reminder to talk with family or friends about your wishes in the event of a medical crisis,” said Shawn LaFrance, executive director of the Foundation for Healthy Communities. “Conversations and completion of an advance directive allows you to decide who will make your healthcare decisions if you lack the capacity to do so.  This choice matters for anyone age 18 years or older because an accident could cause temporary loss of consciousness.” 

A related study of 213 hospice patients, by the NH Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, from seven hospice programs in the state, found that 88 percent of the patients surveyed had an advance directive when admitted into hospice.  In addition, they found that 36 percent of the hospice patients had a Portable Do Not Resuscitate order and 6 percent had Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) order.  

“The focus of National Healthcare Decisions Day is on education,” LaFrance added. “Its goal is to increase the number of people who understand the importance of advance care directives and planning for serious illness or end-of-life care. 

The Foundation for Healthy Communities provides information to help people address the topic with family, friends and healthcare providers and complete a written advance directive, such as healthcare power of attorney and a living will, in accordance with New Hampshire law. The Foundation’s advance care planning guide and a brief education video are available free of charge on line at www.healthynh.com.