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photo Caring at the End of Life
Available on DVD with related Study Films

Discussing Advance Directives
By Ben Achtenberg
with Christine Mitchell, RN, FAAN

Discussing Advance Directives is part of the three-part Caring at the End of Life series which also includes the films Caring at the End of Life (45 minutes, $199) and Stanley (15 Minutes, $99). Save 35% by purchasing the complete series on a single DVD for only $249: click here.

Two nurses and a physician, part of a foundation study on patient communication, meet to discuss the difficulties they encounter in working with other staff and patients on advance directives. Among these are misunderstandings, among both patients and staff, about the differing roles of living wills, durable powers of attorney, and "do not resuscitate" orders; confusion about how to interpret these documents in the light of changing medical circumstances; and the ambivalence of some patients about having to make such decisions at all. This thoughtful and sometimes amusing discussion expands a sequence seen in the longer film, Caring at the End of Life.

This film was partially supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

15 minutes
© 2002
Purchase $89 VHS
Order No. QA-358
ISBN (VHS) 1-57295-358-6
close captioned

"Ben Achtenberg and Christine Mitchell have captured the complexity of end-of-life decision making. Health care professionals may see themselves and their colleagues in new ways that will, hopefully, encourage self-scrutiny and behavior change." Mildred Z. Solomon, EdD, Center for Applied Ethics & Professional Practice

"Many of the situations illustrate the effects of changing situations and medical uncertainties, the burden of making care decisions for both the family and the caregivers, and the importance of communication." Elizabeth F. Hiltunen, MS, RN, CS

Awards & Conference Screenings
Association for Gerontology in Higher Education

Related Films
The Support Project: Documents an effort to improve end-of-life care in hospitals through encouraging better patient, family, and physician communication.

Code Gray: Academy Award nominee for Best Short Documentary. Explores four open-ended cases in which nurses confront serious ethical dilemmas in their day-to-day work.

More than a Failing Heart: Family members describe examples of the best of end-of-life care, and of the worst, and reveal how competent and compassionate physicians and nurses can change the end-of-life experience.

Common Heroes: Follows the nurses, physicians, social workers and clergy who make up the hospice team, and demonstrates the ways they collaborate to help patients and families.

The Journey Home: The candid stories of five patients exemplify the unique gifts of hope, relief, and dignity that hospice care programs offer to thousands of terminally ill patients each year.


Awards & Screenings

Related Films

Web Resources


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