TRACH-Support: A Conversation Tool for Tracheostomy and Prolonged Mechanical Ventilation

What Does it Mean to be a Decision-Maker for Someone Else

Key Questions You Will Have to Consider

Patients on breathing machines usually cannot make decisions for themselves.

It can sometimes be hard to separate what you want from what your loved one would want. The primary job of a surrogate decision-maker is to put yourself in the patient’s shoes when making decisions. Think about what they would want based on their values and goals.

It can be very difficult to know what the patient would have wanted. Sometimes, patients have already told their loved ones what they would want if they ever got really sick. Other times, loved ones may have to use other parts of their life to figure out what you think they would want. For example, someone who valued their independence and never wanted to go hospitals may not want to be attached to machines for a long-time even if it meant dying sooner.

To start thinking about your loved one’s values, answer the following question. Would your loved one value being alive at all costs even if it meant being attached to machines OR would they put more value on the quality of life even if they might die sooner.
Think about where your values and where your loved one’s values would fall along this line.

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The Patient decision aids on this website are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.The material provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not provided as medical advice. Nothing contained in these pages is intended to be for medical diagnosis or treatment. Any individual should consult with his or her own physician before starting any new treatment or with any question you may have regarding a medical condition. No personal health information will be collected from users. Contact information is only collected if the user requests additional information regarding one of the tools. Last Updated 10/31/2019

Funding by the National Institutes on Aging (1K23AG040696) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PI000116-01).