What Would You Do?

by Joanna Smith on Oct 20, 2010

My client was overwhelmed by the decision facing her:  should she agree to have her 90 year old Mother put on a respirator to assist her breathing.  My client’s daughter turned to me and said, “What would you do if it was your Mother?”

A healthcare advocate is frequently asked this type of question.  It is usually at a deeply personal moment in the life of our client and their family, and it demands very careful consideration before responding.  Why so careful?  Because it is of limited importance what I would do in a similar situation, but it is of greatest importance that my client’s family use the resources and decision-making abilities they have to make their own decision.  I would not want to sway their decision by inserting my ideas, values and decision into their process.  No healthcare advocate should.  At the end of the day, I will walk away from that decision-making situation, but my client and her family will live with it every day, for the rest of their lives.

So what did I do?  I said, as gently as I could, that these decisions are difficult to make and that I would like to review with them any information or statements they could remember about what kind of care their Mother would want in this kind of situation.  I would help them arrive at a consensus that would fit for them.  That is truly “what I would do”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *