BACKGROUND: While patient-centered care is recommended as a key dimension for quality improvement, in case of serious illness, patients may have different expectations regarding information and participation in medical decision-making. In oncology, anticipation of disease worsening remains difficult, especially when patient's preferences towards prognosis medical information are unclear. Valid tools to explore patients' preferences could help targeting end-of-life discussions, which have been shown to decrease aggressiveness of end-of-life care. Our aim was to establish the validity and reliability of the French version of the Autonomy Preference Index (API) among patients with incurable cancer and in primary care setting. Three supplementary items were specifically developed to evaluate preparedness to anticipate disease deterioration among patients with incurable cancer.
METHODS: The psychometric properties of the API translated into French were assessed among patients consecutively recruited from January to March 2017 in the waiting rooms of 19 general practitioners (N = 391) and in an oncology (N = 187) clinic in Paris. Relationships between the newly-developed items and the API subscale scores were studied.
RESULTS: A three correlated factors confirmatory model (two factors related to decision-making and a factor related to information-seeking preferences) showed an acceptable fit on the whole sample and no measurement invariance issue was found across settings, age, sex and educational level. Internal consistency and test-retest reliability were acceptable for the information-seeking and decision-making subscales. One of the newly-developed items on patients' ability to anticipate a decision on the use of artificial respiration if a sudden deterioration of their illness occurred was not related to the API subscale scores.
CONCLUSION: The French version of the API was found valid and reliable for use in general practice and oncology settings. The additional items on patient preparedness to anticipate disease deterioration can be of interest to ensure that patient values guide all end-of-life clinical decisions.
This special issue contents : a report of physicians’ beliefs about physician-assisted suicide: a national study ; respecting autonomy and promoting the patient’s good in the setting of serious terminal and concurrent mental illness ; after-death functions of cell death; selective neuronal death in neurodegenerative diseases: the ongoing mystery ; practice variability in determination of death by neurologic criteria for adult patients ; mortal responsibilities: bioethics and medical-assisted dying ; anticipation, accompaniment, and a good death in perinatal care ; pros and cons of physician aid in dying ; brain death criteria: medical dogma and outliers ; dying well-informed: the need for better clinical education surrounding facilitating end-of-life conversations ; looking back at withdrawal of life-support law and policy to see what lies ahead for medical aid-in-dying.
Background: Clinicians at the bedside regularly encounter surprises or unexpected clinical developments that carry emotional, social, or moral overtones-especially when death is anticipated or when patients are particularly vulnerable. In such circumstances, clinicians may struggle to find practical clarity in making treatment plans that honor their fiduciary (literally, "entrusted") duty to uphold equitably the ethical principles of beneficence, nonmaleficence, patient autonomy, and justice.
Methods: We present the case of a patient who appeared to be actively dying and received an indwelling urinary catheter for the purpose of ensuring comfort. However, it led to an unintended reversal of renal failure and exacerbation of underlying psychiatric disease. This led to a meaningful change in the patient's prognosis. It also created pragmatic challenges to shared decision making, which required an intentional interdisciplinary approach to balancing beneficence and patient autonomy. Conclusion: Palliative Care offers a holistic clinical approach to complex suffering. Palliative care specialists develop advanced skill sets in prognosis estimation, nuanced communication issues, and patient-centered goal setting. As this case highlights, prognosis can shift dramatically in the perimortem period, even with small changes in care plans. This case presented several biomedical, social-cultural, and ethical challenges to the team. Lessons from the case are presented regarding: the role a specialist palliative team might play throughout all stages of serious illness; approaching prognostication as an iterative rather than solitary task; and utilizing an ethical framework to care planning when there are barriers to shared decision making.
With the growing number of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) reaching the age of consent, health-care providers must be prepared to bridge gaps in their knowledge of ASD. This is especially true for clinicians who may have to determine if a person with ASD has the capacity to engage in end-of-life decision making, complete advance directives, or act as a surrogate decision maker for someone else. This paper provides an overview of the unique characteristics of autism as related to the communication, cognitive processing, and the capability to participate in advance care planning and, when acting as a surrogate decision maker, to consider the values and preferences of others. In addition, we examine the roles and responsibilities of clinician as facilitator of shared health-care decision making communication with the individual who has autism. Consideration is given to determining capacity, planning for atypical responses, the impact or lack of influence of the framing effect, and strategies for presenting information. Finally, we will offer health-care providers information and examples for adapting their existing end-of-life decision-making tools and conversation guides to meet the communication needs of persons with ASD.
Ethical arguments about assisted dying often focus on whether or not respect for an individual's autonomy gives a reason to offer them an assisted death if they want it. In this paper, I present an argument for legalising assisted dying which appeals to the autonomy of people who don't want to die. Adding that option can transform the nature of someone's choice set, enabling them to pursue other options voluntarily where that would otherwise be harder or impossible. This does not contradict the more familiar arguments for legalising assisted dying based on the autonomy of those who seek to die. But it does suggest that a wider constituency of support for that legislative change might be created by emphasising that one need not be in that position to be benefited by the change.
OBJECTIVES: Asia's first national advance care planning (ACP) program was established in Singapore in 2011 to enhance patient autonomy and self-determination in end-of-life (EoL) care decision-making. However, no known study has examined the extent to which ACP in Singapore successfully met its aims. The purpose of the current study was to examine the attitudes of local healthcare professionals on patients' autonomy in decision-making at the EoL since they strongly influence the extent to which patient and family wishes are fulfilled.
METHODS: Guided by the Interpretive-Systemic Framework and Proctor's conceptual taxonomy of implementation research outcomes, an interview guide was developed. Inquiries focused on healthcare professionals' attitudes towards ACP, their clinical experiences working with patients and families, and their views on program effectiveness. Sixty-three physicians, nurses, medical social workers, and designated ACP coordinators who were actively engaged in ACP facilitation were recruited from seven major hospitals and specialist centers in Singapore through purposive sampling. Twelve interpretive-systemic focus groups were conducted, recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using a thematic analysis.
RESULTS: The extent to which patients in Singapore can exert autonomy in EoL care decision-making is influenced by five themes: (i) collusion over truth-telling to patient, (ii) deferment of autonomy by patients, (iii) negotiating patient self-determination, (iv) relational autonomy as the gold standard and (v) barriers to realization of patient choices.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Healthcare practitioners in Asian communities must align themselves with the values and needs of patients and their family and jointly make decisions that are consistent and congruent with the values of patients and their families. Sensitivity towards such cross-cultural practices is key to enhancing ACP awareness, discourse, and acceptability in Asian communities.
The psychological phenotype in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is less negative than in other neurodegenerative diseases, manifested by a lower prevalence of psychopathology, such as anxiety and major depression, and a higher perceived quality of life by patients, irrespective of physical impairment. We hypothesized that positive psychological factors such as hope, optimism, and self-efficacy in people with ALS (PALS) were key determinants of satisfaction with life (SWL), despite physical impairment, and were protective against psychopathology. Forty PALS, at different functional levels, completed objective questionnaires to evaluate psychological factors of hope, optimism, self-efficacy, and SWL. Approximately 41% of the variance in SWL was accounted for by the Agency factor of hope. The results indicated that SWL was significantly correlated to specific positive psychological factors of hope and self-efficacy. Physical impairment was not correlated with positive psychological factors or SWL. These results support the role of hope and self-efficacy in maintaining satisfaction with life in PALS and consideration of these potentially modifiable factors could improve palliative therapy.
The Ethics Subcommittee of AMDA-The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine ("The Society") presents arguments for and against Stopping Eating and Drinking by Advance Directives (SED by AD). SED by AD is a type of advance directive in which a proxy is instructed to stop offering food and fluids to a person when they reach a certain stage of dementia. Although most conversations regarding SED by AD focus on patient autonomy and the right to determine one's care, we propose that the ethical principle of justice-the obligation to treat all individuals equally regardless of race, gender, and physical or cognitive ability-is the decisive principle in this controversy. We also suggest that implementing SED by AD can violate a physician's obligation to beneficence and nonmaleficence. On the other hand, we identify with the families of our patients who see the refusal to follow an advance directive as an injustice of the highest order. In the end, The Society is convinced that no choice can be made here without practicing an injustice: if one refuses to implement SED by AD, one violates the autonomy of the person who drew up the advance directive. If, on the other hand, one refuses food and fluid to a resident who still accepts food, one risks practicing an injustice against that person as they are now. Recognizing that we have the greatest responsibility to our patients as they present to us in the residential setting, The Society recommends against implementing SED by AD in residents who still accept food and fluids, implementing instead, a policy of comfort feeding for those with advanced dementia.
Significant criticisms have been raised regarding the ethical and psychological basis of living wills. Various solutions to address these criticisms have been advanced, such as the use of surrogate decision makers alone or data science-driven algorithms. These proposals share a fundamental weakness: they focus on resolving the problems of living wills, and, in the process, lose sight of the underlying ethical principle of advance care planning, autonomy. By suggesting that the same sweeping solutions, without opportunities for choice, be applied to all, individual patients are treated as population-level groups-as a theoretical patient who represents a population, not the specific patient crafting his or her individualized future care plans. Instead, advance care planning can be improved through a multimodal approach that both mitigates cognitive biases and allows for customization of the decision-making process by allowing for the incorporation of a variety of methods of advance care planning.
End-of-life decision making frequently involves a complex balancing of clinical, cultural, social, ethical, religious and economic considerations. Achieving a happy balance of these sometimes-competing interests, however, can be particularly fraught in a family-centric society like Singapore where the family unit often retains significant involvement in care determinations necessitating careful consideration of the family's position during the decision-making process. While various decision-making tools such as relational autonomy, best interests principle and welfare-based models have been proposed to help navigate such difficult decision-making processes, their application in practical terms, however, is dubious at best. This case report is presented to highlight these issues and explore the utility of these frameworks within the Singapore end-of-life care context when the interests of the family may be dissonant from those of the patient.
OBJECTIVE: to understand how nurses deal with the elderly's autonomy at the end of life.
METHOD: qualitative, exploratory study, guided by the Grounded Theory. Ten nurses, eight doctors and 15 nursing technicians were interviewed between November 2016 and May 2017 at a university hospital in Rio de Janeiro/Brazil.
RESULTS: nurses deal with the elderly's autonomy in compliance with the code of ethics and exercise leadership in actions and interactions to defend this right, evaluating, guiding and listening to the preferences of the elderly; interacting with the family; and sharing information with the health team.
FINAL CONSIDERATIONS: the elderly's autonomy must be ensured in care planning, based on patient-centered communication and developed in the interaction among agents involved in care. The discussion on "Living Wills" Health Care Directives and principles of palliative care must be encouraged.
Dans le débat sur la fin de vie qui anime la société française, le citoyen est sommé d’avoir un avis bien tranché et de dire si, oui ou non, il est favorable à l’euthanasie. Mais sommes-nous bien "armés" pour penser la fin de vie ? Connaissons-nous les implications éthiques, les droits du patient et des familles, les dispositions légales autour des obligations des médecins et des soins palliatifs ?
En clarifiant, de façon méthodique et pédagogique, les notions fondamentales de finitude, souffrance, dignité et liberté, Jacques Ricot permet à chacun de mieux comprendre tous les enjeux philosophiques, sociétaux et juridiques de la fin de vie.
Dans cette 2e édition entièrement revue, l’auteur poursuit sa réflexion éthique en proposant plusieurs enseignements autour de la vie et de la mort de Vincent Lambert et en décrivant l’évolution récente du débat sur la légalisation de l’euthanasie.
The right to die is an issue is predicated on larger cultural understandings of autonomy. Autonomy, in turn, is centered around assumptions of choice, that individuals are able to make health-related decisions based on a rational calculation. In such a way, a medically assisted death is differentiated from suicide. Through an ethnographic study of right-to-die activists in North America and Australia and how they understand ideals of “good deaths,” this article will complicate this view by examining the ethical subject constructed by such activism that reveals autonomy to be a useful guiding fiction that mask larger ethical relationships.
With various serious illness, patients experience high levels of functional loss, deconditioning, and dependency for activities of daily living (ADLs). This can lead to social isolation, depression, caregiver breakdown, and institutionalization. This fast fact wil review the benefits and challenges of palliative rehabilitation.
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When a patient lacks decision-making capacity, then according to standard clinical ethics practice in the United States, the health care team should seek guidance from a surrogate decision-maker, either previously selected by the patient or appointed by the courts. If there are no surrogates willing or able to exercise substituted judgment, then the team is to choose interventions that promote a patient's best interests. We argue that, even when there is input from a surrogate, patient preferences should be an additional source of guidance for decisions about patients who lack decision-making capacity. Our proposal builds on other efforts to help patients who lack decision-making capacity provide input into decisions about their care. For example, "supported," "assisted," or "guided" decision-making models reflect a commitment to humanistic patient engagement and create a more supportive process for patients, families, and health care teams. But often, they are supportive processes for guiding a patient toward a decision that the surrogate or team believes to be in the patient's medical best interests. Another approach holds that taking seriously the preferences of such a patient can help surrogates develop a better account of what the patient's treatment choices would have been if the patient had retained decision-making capacity; the surrogate then must try to integrate features of the patient's formerly rational self with the preferences of the patient's currently compromised self. Patients who lack decision-making capacity are well served by these efforts to solicit and use their preferences to promote best interests or to craft would-be autonomous patient images for use by surrogates. However, we go further: the moral reasons for valuing the preferences of patients without decision-making capacity are not reducible to either best-interests or (surrogate) autonomy considerations but can be grounded in the values of liberty and respect for persons. This has important consequences for treatment decisions involving these vulnerable patients.
Comment en sommes-nous arrivés, comme société, à envisager de proposer « la mort donnée » comme un service légal au titre de la liberté et de la dignité des hommes ? Cette « césarienne de la mort » qui consisterait à faire mourir les gens à l’heure dite, sur rendez-vous, de façon médicalisée et réglée (comme on parle de la chirurgie réglée face à la chirurgie d’urgence). Cédant à la tentation de nous rendre maître de la mort en la provoquant par anticipation. Parce qu’à une vision globale de la vie humaine, nous substituons une vision morcelée, réduite à des particules élémentaires, fournie par la numérisation de l’univers.
Background: Requests for physician-assisted death (PAD) in patients with cognitive impairment are complex and require careful consideration. Of particular difficulty is determination of whether the request is voluntary and well considered.
Results: Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) are both legal in The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Colombia, and Canada. Euthanasia is legal in Belgium, while PAS is legal in Switzerland and Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, and California (USA). Upon a PAD request, evaluation of the capacity to consent medical treatment is relevant for the decision-making process, while evaluation of testamentary capacity is appropriate before an advance euthanasia directive is written. Anosognosia assessment throughout the Alzheimer's disease continuum provides essential and relevant information regarding the voluntary and well-considered nature of the PAD request; meanwhile, early assessment of hypernosognosia or subjective cognitive decline assists in formulation of a clinical prognosis. Furthermore, the assessment of physical and psychological suffering should incorporate verbal and nonverbal cues as well as consideration of the psychosocial factors that might affect due care criteria.
Conclusion: The clinical approach to a PAD request should consider the legal framework and the decision-making capacity, assess memory deficit awareness and the perception of suffering, and evaluate mental competency when considered pertinent.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to identify the neuropsychological underpinnings of decision-making capacity in terminally ill patients with advanced cancer.
METHOD: Participants were 108 English-speaking adults. More than half (n = 58) of participants had a diagnosis of advanced cancer and were receiving inpatient palliative care; the rest were healthy adults. Participants completed a measure of decision-making capacity that assesses four legal standards of capacity (Choice, Understanding, Appreciation, and Reasoning), and several measures of neuropsychological functioning.
RESULTS: Patients with terminal cancer were significantly more impaired on measures of capacity and neuropsychological functioning. Surprisingly, in the terminally ill sample, there were no significant correlations between neuropsychological functioning and decision-making capacity.
CONCLUSION: The terminally ill sample exhibited high levels of neuropsychological impairment across multiple cognitive domains. However, few of the measures of neuropsychological functioning were significantly associated with performance on the decisional capacity subscales in the terminally ill sample. It is possible that end-of-life decisional capacity is governed by general, rather than domain-specific, cognitive abilities.
This article addresses ethical issues in the conduct of ethnographic research with vulnerable study participants, such as individuals with cognitive impairment. Seven ethical issues emerged from this case study, in which a participant diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease wished to pursue euthanasia in Switzerland: (a) How to protect the participant's autonomy while ensuring his decision had not resulted from untreated depression or modifiable social factors; (b) How to interpret self-harm; (c) How to protect the research team members' "mandated reporter" status; (d) How to counteract the attractive qualities of pro-euthanasia videos depicting an easy end to personal suffering; (e) How to find a better alternative to the common practice of reporting self-harm cases to Adult Protective Services and then removing these cases from studies; (f) How to leverage a participant's trust to address these issues; and (g) Whether researchers should do anything further to help address unmet needs in similar situations.
The treatment of the symptom, dyspnea, involves pharmacological and non-pharmacological measures. Palliative care specialists use fewer common strategies for symptomatic control of dyspnea. Medical practice should always respect the autonomy of the patient and the proposed therapeutic plan should be compatible with his/her preferences. The present case report illustrates the above-mentioned aspects in a patient with asthma-COPD overlap syndrome admitted to a Palliative Care Unit.