National Healthcare Decisions Day April 16, 2017: Start the conversation



National Healthcare Decisions Day educates and empowers the public and healthcare providers to take part in important advance care planning.

Emphasizing the spotlight on the importance of advance directives, National Healthcare Decisions Day, is a collaborative effort of national, state and community organizations. Together these entities work to ensure that the information, opportunity and access needed to document health care decisions is available to all decision-making capable adult citizens of United States.

Whether you are a physician, patient or concerned family member, healthcare decision-making can be a difficult topic to discuss.

April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD). Fancy name. Important topic.

The purpose of NHDD is to help people across the United States understand the value of advance care healthcare planning. One of the biggest barriers to achieving this is fear. Who likes to talk about death? How do you even bring it up? Won’t you offend people or, if you’re clinician, maybe offend your patients?

Advance care planning is not about death. It allows you (or your patients, if you’re a clinician) to think about and make decisions about the care people would want to receive if they become unable to speak. The word “death” is not even in the definition.

National Healthcare Decisions day, a time to raise awareness about the importance of advance care plans. Sometimes called an advance directive or living will, an advance care plan is a way to plan ahead for your medical care in case you cannot make your wishes known.

This kind of planning:

  • Can be made at any time in your life.
  • Gives you and your loved ones peace of mind.
  • Helps prevent questions, confusion, and disagreements among family members.
  • Advises health care providers what you want if you are unable to speak for yourself.

A lack of planning has personal and economic consequences:

  • Family members may not know what you want and whether they are "doing the right thing" on your behalf.
  • Getting care you didn't want can lead to unnecessary medical expenses for treatment, hospital stays, and nursing homes.

Woman writing with pen

Put your care preferences in writing using an advance care form.

Think, Communicate, Decide, and Document

To create an advance care plan:

  • Think about your wishes and preferences regarding health care while you are able.
  • Talk with family members about your wishes and preferences.
  • Decide who will be responsible for making decisions if you cannot.
  • Most importantly, put your preferences in writing using an advance care form.

For more information on this important topic visit:

Advocacy Groups