What We Do
CHAT aims to establish a resource for physicians and their patients to ensure the legal components of advance care planning are completed before an emergency occurs. We also hope to prepare patients, using advance directives, for a planned and thoughtful clinical discussion with their physicians, as well as encourage people to discuss their values and wishes concerning medical decision-making with family members and friends who might make such decisions for them should they not be capable themselves.
The CHAT program has three distinct components:
For many people, advance care planning can be a scary and confusing process. However, advance directives (including health care proxies, living wills and DNRs) are powerful tools that can help demystify an emotionally charged planning process. An informed patient is an engaged patient, and by providing free, confidential legal counseling, the CHAT project seeks to (1) help people complete critical advance care planning documentation and (2) prepare these individuals for important discussions with their loved ones and clinicians through the use of these documents. CHAT facilitates theses goals by:
- Establishing connections with local community leaders and primary care physicians to provide education and legal consultations.
- Hosting group educational sessions to provide information about advance care planning.
- Providing one-on-one free legal consultations for advance care planning.
Despite an unfavorable legal climate, many states have been working to pass laws that encourage more advance care planning and treatment. Unfortunately, just as with medical innovation, legal innovation is often slow to take hold. The legal mapping component is designed to identify robust, best-practice advance directive and palliative care laws from across the country, and analyze what makes them effective. Our legal map will make this information available to lawmakers and institutions as they work to craft their own effective laws.
In the wake of widespread misunderstanding and the erroneous denomination “death panel” which followed the proposal that physicians be paid for conversations about advance care planning, private organizations and lawmakers have been hesitant to establish policies that address such conversations with compassion and integrity. As advance care planning discourse finally becomes more sophisticated, CHAT will work with community stakeholders to identify and remove legal barriers to people having their care wishes respected.