Ethics in Clinical Practice

Advanced Care Planning Process

Did you know that only 1 of 3 Americans has completed an advance directive? Advance directives help ensure care is consistent with people’s preferences in the event of incapacity.

At Mass General, we are committed to informing patients of their right to govern their own health care decisions and assisting patients to complete the advance care planning process. Advance care planning is a process that promotes autonomy for individuals so that their treatment preferences will be known and respected should they be in a situation where they are unable to speak for themselves.

Patients admitted to Mass General receive information about advance care planning in the Mass General Patient Guide. There are other resources clinicians or patients can access if additional information is needed. Patients are asked to provide a copy of their written advance directive to the hospital. 

In Massachusetts, the legally accepted form of advance directive is called a health care proxy. The health care proxy allows a person to name a health care agent to make medical decisions for them if ever they could not make or communicate those decisions. Before being able to act, the health care agent must wait until a doctor determines and documents that the person is not able to make or communicate decisions on their own.

Advance Directive & Health Care Proxy
Internet Resources

Advance Care Planning involves learning about your health care options if you’re ever unable to make those decisions. This plan is put into documents called Advance Directives.

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Five Wishes Aging with Dignity

Five Wishes is a comprehensive, person-centered advance care planning program that offers healthcare providers a proven, easy-to-use approach to having effective and compassionate conversations.

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Know Your Choices: A Guide for
Patients with Serious Advancing Illness

In Massachusetts, all patients with serious advancing illness have a legal right to receive information about their medical conditions, their likely outcome (“prognosis”), and their full range of options for care.

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Medical Orders for
Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST)

MOLST is a standardized medical order form for use by clinicians caring for patients with serious advancing illnesses.

Learn More   Sample Form


Last Updated 11/11/2019