Decision making is a complex process and it is particularly challenging to make decisions with, or for, patients who are near the end of their life. Some of those challenges will not be resolved - due to our human inability to foresee the future precisely and the human proclivity to change stated preferences when faced with reality. Other challenges of the decision-making process are manageable. This commentary offers a set of approaches which may lead to progress in this field.One clearly desirable approach can and should be used more often than it is: the routine inclusion of discussions about the goals of care and documentation with all patients who have a poor prognosis. The match between a patient's goals and the care received should be the gold standard for quality palliative care.
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