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end-of-life conversations:

voices of family physicians

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Episode 1: Palliative Care

Alongside the common fear of dying alone, many patients fear suffering at the end of life. This first episode of The Talk, produced by Deirdre Kennedy, looks at the often misunderstood field of palliative care as an option for addressing pain and helping patients define their goals of care. Physicians discuss common misperceptions about what palliative care offers and suggestions for initiating earlier conversations with patients and families about the benefits of palliative care during the complete trajectory of an illness.


Episode 2: Advance Care Planning and Advance Directives

There is often confusion about the various advance care planning forms available, including advance directives, Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) forms and Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) forms. In this episode of The Talk, family physicians discuss the differences between these documents and how they can help patients understand and complete them, as well as contemplate and make clear their medical wishes in advance of a terminal diagnosis or health care crisis.


Episode 3: Patient and Family Communication

When communicating with patients and families about serious illness and end of life, family disagreements are common, often because of different understandings about what the best course of treatment may be. In this episode of The Talk, physicians share techniques for navigating complicated family dynamics, including the mechanics of family meetings, and discuss cultural humility and helpful phrases and questions.


Episode 4: California's End-of-Life Option Act

California’s new End-of-Life Option Act – signed by Governor Jerry Brown on October 5, 2015 – went into effect on June 9, 2016. Family physicians throughout the state may face increased inquiries from patients about aid-in-dying drugs. This episode of The Talk explores the law and how physicians can have meaningful conversations with patients about all the care options available at the end of life.