Helping Texans think about and prepare for end-of-life decisions is an important part of the work of Texas hospitals. Unfortunately, the laws and process around these decisions can be confusing and difficult to understand. Texas has made strides in clarifying these processes to help ensure people understand how to best prepare for end-of-life decisions.
It’s critical to understand the differences between the types of care and standards associated with decision-making and care planing toward the end of a person’s life.
- End-of-Life Care: Care for people with a terminal illness who have six months or less to live; care intended to relieve pain and other distressing side effect.
- Palliative Care: Care for people at any stage of serious illness who are still pursuing treatment; care intended to help them live more comfortably.
- Crisis Standards of Care: A framework of legal and ethical guidelines for health care providers to help to prioritize limited health care resources when the need outpaces the supply.
The Texas Hospital Association is a leader in end-of-life advocacy and has developed materials to help hospitals and the general public understand and communicate on end-of-life issues and decision-making. THA also tracks related legislation and regulatory activity, and stays abreast of lawsuits and legal activity that can alter end-of-life decision-making practices in hospital settings.
THA’s team of lobbyists and legal experts stay on top of the technical and often delicate aspects of end-of-life policies and laws. THA coordinates and meets regularly with critical stakeholders in this area, including:
- THA’s End of Life Stakeholder Group
- Texas Advance Directives Workgroup
- Palliative Care Interdisciplinary Council
- Other Health/Medical Stakeholders
These groups work together to pore over current laws and negotiate improvements to help ensure process clarity and that people have adequate time for decision-making related to care at the end-of-life. Addressing areas where the law lacks clarity helps avoid misinterpretations and costly legal interventions that may unfold during end-of-life care decision-making.
- Overview of Texas Advance Directive Law (THA)
- Texas DNR Law: Hospital and Patient Impact (THA)
- Crisis Standards of Care (North Texas Mass Critical Care Guidelines Task Force)
- Crisis Standards of Care (Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council)