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November 01, 2012

Health Decisions and Advance Planning

Charlie Sabatino


The Commission successfully sought adoption of new policy before the House of Delegates in August 2012, supporting congressional action to amend the Patient Self-Determination Act to strengthen support of patients’ health care advance planning options. After the "death panel" hysteria of 2009, progress on this front may be a real possibility in the next Congress.


New "Guidelines on the Termination of Life-Sustaining Treatment and the Care of the Dying" by the Hastings Center are soon to be published, replacing the original 1987 guidelines. The Commission served in a consulting role and is now participating in the planning of a 2013 conference to introduce the guidelines.


The number of states with Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment programs (POLST) endorsed by the National POLST Paradigm Task Force reached 15 this year. In carrying out the ABA’s 2008 policy supporting the POLST program, the Commission has served as a legal consultant to the Task Force and to nearly every state developing a POLST program. At least ten more states are expected to develop and implement programs in the coming year.

Media Awareness

The Diane Rehm Show, a National Public Radio program produced by WAMU in Washington, DC, featured the Commission staff in a program focusing on end-of-life conversations and advance care planning on August 8, 2012.


Educational efforts on health decisions and advance care planning included 19 professional conference presentations during the year and co-sponsorship of a cutting edge symposium, "Freedom of Choice at the End of Life: Patients’ Rights in a Shifting Legal and Political Landscape," at New York Law School in November 2012.


Charlie Sabatino

Staff Contact:
Charlie Sabatino
Phone: 202-662-8686
E-mail: [email protected]