The law 219/2017 is the first Italian law about advanced care planning (ACP). ACP is an important part of the therapeutic relationship between patients and doctors: thanks to ACP patients can think and discuss about end of life decisions, considering clinical aspects, but also psychological, cultural, social and ethical issues. Patients prepare themselves in advance because of the possibility of future cognitive impairment, can identify a surrogate decision maker and make end-life decisions according to their goals and values.
End-stage kidney disease (ESRD) is often characterized by important symptoms, psychological suffering and social disadvantage, and patients affected by ESRD often have slow physical and cognitive decline. Despite this, access to palliative care is reduced for these patients as compared to patients affected by other end-stage organ failures. This is the reason why we want to explore the possibility of applying APC to ESRD patients.
This pilot study, regarding three patients from the Dialysis Unit of ASST Crema in Italy, has been conducted to verify the applicability of the law 219/2017 in Dialysis Units. It shows that we have to deeply investigate this issue from both sanitary workers’ and patients’ and families’ points of view. We need more studies with a larger number of patients and a longer period of follow-up, but we also need to teach sanitary workers how to approach APC and to teach people what APC is and why it’s so important for everyone.
Keywords: advanced care planning, end-stage kidney disease, dialysis