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D. What Everyone Should Know about Advance Directives

Narrator: This is Science Today. Planning for end of life care often includes an advance directive, a written document that indicates particular treatment preferences and designates individuals who can make decisions for us. But According to Felicia Cohn, director of medical ethics at the University of California, Irvine College of Medicine, advance directives are not always sufficient by themselves.

Cohn: Advance directives are a good idea in theory. The problem with advance directives is that most of us can't predict the things we will actually face as we approach the ends of our lives.

Narrator: To bridge the gaps, Cohn urges discussing and documenting your wishes with family and doctors, in addition to an advance directive.

Cohn: It's always good to document those conversations with your physician, so that he can include a note in your chart along with an advance directive. Doctors certainly feel more comfortable when there is something in writing that you can draw on and it's nice if you can document those conversations because some states require a higher level of evidence should your situation end up in court.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.