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NHPCO’s Schumacher addresses AGs
Don Schumacher, PsyD, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in Alexandria, VA, challenged members of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) to learn more about futile medical care.
"Many patients are unaware of the terminal nature of their illness," Schumacher said during his May 16 address. "And decisions are made to undergo aggressive therapies that ultimately do not benefit the patient. Patients and families must have a full understanding of all available care options in order to give informed consent."
The remarks were made at NAAG’s third and final national listening conference on improving end-of-life care. Hosted by NAAG’s president, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, the conference provided a panel of attorneys general, key staff people, and an invited audience of more than 125 people with the opportunity to hear noted authorities address a range of care issues involving policy, patient care, pain management, and best practices.
Schumacher emphasized the role that AGs play in influencing public policy and helping educate the public about quality care. Advance directives, living wills, durable powers of attorney, and health care surrogate laws are only some of the ways AGs can work in their home states to improve care for all Americans, he said. Schumacher encouraged AGs and their staffs to learn more about the range of services available from hospice and palliative care providers in their communities. Schumacher suggested they visit with local care providers, accompany hospice professionals on a home care visit, talk with families caring for a loved one, or even spend a day as a hospice volunteer.
In responding to questions from the panel of Attorneys General, Schumacher stressed that AGs would indeed make a difference in improving end-of-life care across the nation by focusing on these issues. A summary of Schumacher’s remarks is available from NHPCO. The conference was part of NAAG’s ongoing presidential initiative to encourage the elimination of legal barriers to quality care, educate the public in planning for their own care needs, and partner with health care professionals to safeguard the rights of patients and families.