Soignants, philosophes et sociologues examinent les effets de la pandémie de Covid-19 sur les grands principes éthiques. Ils abordent la situation des personnes vulnérables, le système de soin, l'éthique en contexte ou encore les relations entre santé et environnement.
La loi Claeys-Léonetti modifie de manière importante les dispositions concernant la fin de vie. Elles ont pour objectif de mettre en avant les décisions et les choix des patients en rendant opposables leurs directives anticipées et en leur permettant d’opter pour une sédation profonde et continue maintenue jusqu’à la fin de la vie. Ces modifications mettent en jeu les pratiques des soignants, qu’ils soient médecins ou personnels soignants. Elles ont une répercussion particulière dans les Ehpad, où sont accueillis une grande proportion de sujets en perte d’autonomie et souvent dans l’incapacité d’énoncer leurs volontés. À partir d’un cas clinique, nous mènerons une réflexion sur les enjeux et les difficultés rencontrées afin de traiter cette situation où sont impliqués de nombreux intervenants.
With increased therapeutic capabilities in healthcare today, many patients with multiple progressive comorbidities are living longer. They experience recurrent hospitalizations and often undergo procedures that are not aligned with their personal goals. That is why it is essential to discuss and document healthcare preferences prior to an acute event when significant interventions could occur, especially for patients with serious and progressive illness. Completion of an advance directive and a physician order for life-sustaining treatment (POLST) supports provision of goal-concordant care. Further, for patients who have do not attempt resuscitation (DNAR) orders or are diagnosed with advanced dementia, having a POLST is essential. This may be best accomplished with hospitalization discharge plans. Our 896-bed academic medical center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, launched a quality initiative in 2015 to complete POLSTs for patients being discharged with DNAR status or with dementia returning to a skilled nursing facility. As part of interdisciplinary progression of care rounds, emphasis was placed on those patients for whom POLST completion was indicated. Proactive, facilitated discussions with patients, family members, and attending physicians were initiated to support POLST completion. The completed forms were then uploaded to the electronic health record. Individual units and physicians received regular feedback on POLST completion rates, and the data were later shared at medical staff quality improvement meetings.During the initiative, POLST completion rates for DNAR patients discharged alive rose from 41% in fiscal year (FY) 2014 to 75% in FY 2019. Similar improvement was seen for patients with dementia discharged to skilled nursing facilities, regardless of code status (rising from 14% in FY 2014 to 54% in FY 2019). Subsequently, we have expanded our efforts to include early discussion and completion of these advanced care planning documents for patients recently diagnosed with high mortality cancers (ovarian, pancreatic, lung, glioblastoma), focusing on the completion of advanced care planning documentation and palliative care referrals.
PURPOSE: The main aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of ethical dilemmas in the end-of-life process in advanced cancer patients.
METHODS: We carried out a multicenter, cross-sectional, observational, prospective study in a cohort of cancer patients whose life expectancy was = 6 months. We recorded sociodemographic characteristics, diagnosis of cancer, symptom burden, cognitive and functional status, emotional impact, and sociofamilial risk factors. The main outcome measure was the detection of ethical dilemmas, based on the following definition: conflict in decision-making during the end-of-life process that involves the need to choose between morally acceptable opposing options, where none is clearly preferable to another.
RESULTS: We included 324 patients (mean age, 69 years; 58% men). We identified 117 dilemmas in 90 patients (27.8%). The dilemmas detected were as follows: (a) conflicts of information (adaptive denial, conspiracy of silence, information exceeding patient's desired limit), 15.7%; (b) discrepancies in proportionality (discussion on futility, rejection of treatment, withdrawal of life support measures), 16.7%; (c) unrealistic expectations about the outcome of clinical trials, 2.5%; and (d) request for euthanasia or medically assisted suicide, 1.2%. We observed a greater prevalence of ethical dilemmas in men, in patients receiving active cancer treatment, and in patients with emotional distress (p < 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of ethical dilemmas during the end-of-life process in cancer patients is relevant. Most dilemmas were associated directly or indirectly with respect for patient autonomy. In this context, the communication skills of the health professionals and advanced care planning take on a key role.
IMPORTANCE AND OBJECTIVE: Conducting advance care planning (ACP) conversations with people with dementia and their relatives contributes to providing care according to their preferences. In this review, we identify moral considerations which may hinder or facilitate physicians in conducting ACP in dementia.
DESIGN: For this meta-review of systematic reviews and primary studies, we searched the PubMed, Web of Science and PsycINFO databases between 2005 and 30 August 2019. We included empirical studies concerning physicians' moral barriers and facilitators of conversations about end-of-life preferences in dementia care. The protocol was registered at Prospero (CRD42019123308).
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Physicians and nurse practitioners providing medical care to people with dementia in long-term and primary care settings. We also include observations from patients or family caregivers witnessing physicians' moral considerations.
MAIN OUTCOMES: Physicians' moral considerations involving ethical dilemmas for ACP. We define moral considerations as the weighing by the professional caregiver of values and norms aimed at providing good care that promotes the fundamental interests of the people involved and which possibly ensues dilemmas.
RESULTS: Of 1347 studies, we assessed 22 systematic reviews and 51 primary studies as full texts. We included 11 systematic reviews and 13 primary studies. Themes included: (1) beneficence and non-maleficence; (2) respecting dignity; (3) responsibility and ownership; (4) relationship and (5) courage. Moral dilemmas related to the physician as a professional and as a person. For most themes, there were considerations that either facilitated or hindered ACP, depending on physician's interpretation or the context.
CONCLUSIONS: Physicians feel a responsibility to provide high-quality end-of-life care to patients with dementia. However, the moral dilemmas this may involve, can lead to avoidant behaviour concerning ACP. If these dilemmas are not recognised, discussed and taken into account, implementation of ACP as a process between physicians, persons with dementia and their family caregivers may fail.
Although one can argue that they do not represent a radical departure from existing practices, protocols for reverse triage certainly step beyond what is ordinarily done in medicine and healthcare. Nevertheless, there seems to be some degree of moral concern regarding the ethical legitimacy of practicing reverse triage in the context of a pandemic. Such concern can be taken as a reflection of the moral antipathy some exhibit towards current practices of withdrawing treatment—that is, when withdrawal of treatment is arguably in the best interests of patients—and a rejection of the purported normative insignificance of withholding and withdrawing. Given that the relevance of the psychological attitudes of some healthcare professionals to the moral assessment of withdrawing and withholding treatment continues to be debated, it would seem that some thought should be given to the introduction and implementation of reverse triage decisions in response to a pandemic. This brief paper will consider if provision should be made for healthcare professionals to conscientiously refuse to participate in reverse triage.
BACKGROUND: Regulations on forgoing life-sustaining treatment (LST) have developed in Asian countries including Japan, Korea and Taiwan. However, other countries are relatively unaware of these due to the language barrier. This article aims to describe and compare the relevant regulatory frameworks, using the (more familiar) situation in England as a point of reference. We undertook literature reviews to ascertain the legal and regulatory positions on forgoing LST in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and England.
MAIN TEXT: Findings from a literature review are first presented to describe the development of the regulatory frameworks surrounding the option of forgoing LST in each country. Based on the findings from the four countries, we suggest five ethically important points, reflection on which should help to inform the further development of regulatory frameworks concerning end-of-life care in these countries and beyond. There should be reflection on: (1) the definition of - and reasons for defining - the 'terminal stage' and associated criteria for making such judgements; Korea and Taiwan limit forgoing LST to patients in this stage, but there are risks associated with defining this too narrowly or broadly; (2) foregoing LST for patients who are not in this stage, as is allowed in Japan and England, because here too there are areas of controversy, including (in England) whether the law in this area does enough to respect the autonomy of (now) incapacitated patients; (3) whether 'foregoing' LST should encompass withholding and withdrawing treatment; this is also an ethically disputed area, particularly in the Asian countries we examine; (4) the family's role in end-of-life decision-making, particularly as, compared with England, the three Asian countries traditionally place a greater emphasis on families and communities than on individuals; and (5) decision-making with and for those incapacitated patients who lack families, surrogate decision-makers or ADs.
CONCLUSION: Comparison of, and reflection on, the different legal positions that obtain in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and England should prove informative and we particularly invite reflection on five areas, in the hope the ensuing discussions will help to establish better end-of-life regulatory frameworks in these countries and elsewhere.
OBJECTIVE: Our study aims to provide a paradigm when it is ethical to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Hospitals around the nation are enacting systems to limit CPR in caring for COVID+ patients for a variety of legitimate reasons and based on concepts of medical futility and allocation of scarce resources. No ethical framework, however, has been proposed as a standard to guide care in this crucial matter.
METHODS: Our analysis begins with definitions of ethically relevant terms. We then cycle an illustrative clinical vignette through the mathematically permissible possibilities to account for all conceivable scenarios. Scenarios with ethical tension are examined.
RESULTS: Patients have the negative right to refuse care including CPR, but they do not have the positive right to demand it. Our detailed ethical analysis and recommendations support CPR if and only if 1) CPR is judged medically beneficial, and in line with the patient's and values and goals, 2) allocations or scarce resources follow a just and transparent triage system, and 3) providers are protected from contracting the disease.
CONCLUSIONS: CPR is an intervention like any other, with attendant risks and benefits and with responsibility for the utilization of limited resources. Our ethical analysis advocates for a systematic approach to codes that respects the important ethical considerations in caring for the critically ill and facilitates patient-centered, evidence-based, and fair treatment to all.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The purpose of this review is to describe ethical and legal issues that arise in the management of patients with disorders of consciousness ranging from the minimally conscious state to the coma state, as well as brain death.
RECENT FINDINGS: The recent literature highlights dilemmas created by diagnostic and prognostic uncertainties in patients with disorders of consciousness. The discussion also reveals the challenges experienced by the disability community, which includes individuals with severe brain injury who are classified as having a disorder of consciousness. We review current guidelines for management of patients with disorders of consciousness including discussions around diagnosis, prognosis, consideration of neuropalliation, and decisions around life sustaining medical treatment.
SUMMARY: In the setting of uncertainty, this review describes the utility of applying a disability rights perspective and shared decision-making process to approach medical decision-making for patients with disorders of consciousness. We outline approaches to identifying surrogate decision makers, standards for decision-making and decision-making processes, specifically addressing the concept of futility as a less useful framework for making decisions. We also highlight special considerations for research, innovative and controversial care, brain death, organ donation, and child abuse and neglect.
Background: Decisions to limit treatment (DLTs) are important to protect patients from overtreatment but constitute one of the most ethically challenging situations in oncology practice. In the Ethics Policy for Advance Care Planning and Limiting Treatment study (EPAL), we examined how often DLT preceded a patient’s death and how early they were determined before (T1) and after (T2) the implementation of an intrainstitutional ethics policy on DLT.
Methods: This prospective quantitative study recruited 1.134 patients with haematological/oncological neoplasia in a period of 2×6 months at the University Hospital of Munich, Germany. Information on admissions, discharges, diagnosis, age, DLT, date and place of death, and time span between the initial determination of a DLT and the death of a patient was recorded using a standardised form.
Results: Overall, for 21% (n=236) of the 1.134 patients, a DLT was made. After implementation of the policy, the proportion decreased (26% T1/16% T2). However, the decisions were more comprehensive, including more often the combination of ‘Do not resuscitate’ and ‘no intense care unit’ (44% T1/64% T2). The median time between the determination of a DLT and the patient’s death was similarly short with 6 days at a regular ward (each T1/T2) and 10.5/9 (T1/T2) days at a palliative care unit. For patients with solid tumours, the DLTs were made earlier at both regular and palliative care units than for the deceased with haematological neoplasia.
Conclusion: Our results show that an ethics policy on DLT could sensitise for treatment limitations in terms of frequency and extension but had no significant impact on timing of DLT. Since patients with haematological malignancies tend to undergo intensive therapy more often during their last days than patients with solid tumours, special attention needs to be paid to this group. To support timely discussions, we recommend the concept of advance care planning.
On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization classified COVID-19, caused by Sars-CoV-2, as a pandemic. Although not much was known about the new virus, the first outbreaks in China and Italy showed that potentially a large number of people worldwide could fall critically ill in a short period of time. A shortage of ventilators and intensive care resources was expected in many countries, leading to concerns about restrictions of medical care and preventable deaths. In order to be prepared for this challenging situation, national triage guidance has been developed or adapted from former influenza pandemic guidelines in an increasing number of countries over the past few months. In this article, we provide a comparative analysis of triage recommendations from selected national and international professional societies, including Australia/New Zealand, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Pakistan, South Africa, Switzerland, the United States, and the International Society of Critical Care Medicine. We describe areas of consensus, including the importance of prognosis, patient will, transparency of the decision-making process, and psychosocial support for staff, as well as the role of justice and benefit maximization as core principles. We then probe areas of disagreement, such as the role of survival versus outcome, long-term versus short-term prognosis, the use of age and comorbidities as triage criteria, priority groups and potential tiebreakers such as 'lottery' or 'first come, first served'. Having explored a number of tensions in current guidance, we conclude with a suggestion for framework conditions that are clear, consistent and implementable. This analysis is intended to advance the ongoing debate regarding the fair allocation of limited resources and may be relevant for future policy-making.
BACKGROUND: Training in medical ethics aims to educate health care professionals in dealing with daily care ethical issues. To guarantee quality of life and spiritual and emotional support, palliative care professionals have to develop ethical and relational skills. We propose the implementation and evaluation of a specialized training programme in medical ethics dedicated to a hospital-based Palliative Care Unit.
METHODS: This study is a mixed-method before-after evaluation with data triangulation.
RESULTS: The results highlight that participants developed their ethical knowledge, and a deeper ethical awareness. They also felt more confident and motivated to widely apply ethical reflections and reasonings in their daily practice.
CONCLUSION: The participants appreciated the innovative structure of the training, especially regarding the integration of the theoretical-interactive and practical parts. However, they recommended increasing the number of concrete occasions for ethical supervision and practical application of what they learned during the programme. The training programme also has some potential practical implications: the development of advanced ethical skills within a hospital-based PC team may improve the quality of life of the patients and their families. In addition, health care professionals with advanced ethical competencies are able to educate patients and their families towards more active participation in the decision-making process.
In medical practice, physicians are often faced with tough ethical and moral dilemmas, one such example is the reoccurring conflict between a patient’s hope and the truth. This paper explores two ethical dilemmas centered on compassion and the reduction of suffering: truth-telling with terminal patients and the clinical use of placebos. In each case the disclosure of truthful information could interfere with hope and suffering relief.
Disconnecting a patient from artificial life support, on their request, is often if not always a matter of letting thcardiem die, not killing them-and sometimes, permissibly doing so. Stopping a patient's heart on request, by contrast, is a kind of killing, and rarely if ever a permissible one. The difference seems to be that procedures of the first kind remove an unwanted external support for bodily functioning, rather than intervening in the body itself. What should we say, however, about cases at the boundary-procedures involving items that seem bodily in some respects, but not others? When, for instance, does deactivating an implanted device like a pacemaker count as killing, and when as letting die? Contra existing proposals, I argue that the boundaries of the body for this purpose are not drawn at the boundaries of the self, or (if this is different) the human organism. Nor should we determine when we are killing and when we are letting die by deferring to existing practices for distinguishing ongoing from completed treatment. Rather, I argue that whether something (organic or inorganic) counts as body part for purposes of this distinction depends on the results of a normative analysis of the particular character of our rights in it-particularly, whether and in what way these rights ought to be alienable. I conclude by arguing that there are likely good reasons to recognize distinctively "bodily" rights and restrictions in at least some implantable devices.
OP is a 59 year old female who presents to the emergency room in respiratory distress. Her COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test was positive, as was her SARS-CoV-2 IgM antibody screen. As she was hypoxic (room air oxygen saturation: 89%), she was admitted for further treatment.
La pandémie à COVID-19 touche particulièrement les personnes les plus âgées et expose à un risque de mortalité les plus fragiles. Des mesures de confinement, de distanciation sociale et d’isolement ont été mises en place pour limiter la propagation virale. S’il existe un rationnel clair pour réduire la contagiosité de l’infection par ce biais, les conséquences néfastes de cet isolement social, en particulier pour cette population hétérogène, âgée et fragile sont difficiles à appréhender. En particulier, la rupture avec les structures habituelles de support et de soutien à domicile ou en institution, mais aussi le risque d’une diminution de « l’empowerment » de la personne âgée par rapport à ses propres décisions de santé et de vie sociale, imposent une vigilance particulière pour éviter un risque d’âgisme sociétal. Il peut ainsi exister, en regard de cette population particulière, des conflits de valeurs entre protection individuelle et collective, d’une part, et respect de l’autonomie et de l’indépendance, d’autre part. Cet article propose une réflexion éthique de la question du confinement des personnes âgées à risque de fragilités, s’appuyant sur des principes de l’éthique médicale, pour ouvrir les pistes de réflexion qui permettent une approche positive de la vulnérabilité, garante du respect de la dignité de la personne et de l’équité dans l’accès aux soins.
There is a lack of clear evidence regarding the benefits and harm of artificial hydration at the end of life. Trial findings are conflicting and inconclusive, offering little basis for recommendations. As a result, the advantages and disadvantages of artificial hydration remain largely anecdotal, and decisions about its use, withholding or withdrawal are often based on opinion rather than evidence. In certain circumstances, some patients who are dying might derive benefit from artificial hydration in terms of reducing specific symptoms, such as delirium. This article explores the central questions pertaining to artificial hydration at the end of life by undertaking a critical exploration of the relevant literature.
During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, principles from both clinical and public health ethics cue clinicians and healthcare administrators to plan alternatives for frail older adults who prefer to avoid critical care, and for when critical care is not available due to crisis triaging. This article will explore the COVID-19 Ethical Decision Making Framework, published in British Columbia (BC), Canada, to familiarize clinicians and policy makers with how ethical principles can guide systems change, in the service of frail older adults. In BC, the healthcare system has launched resources to support clinicians in proactive advance care planning discussions, and is providing enhanced supportive and palliative care options to residents of long-term care facilities. If the pandemic truly overwhelms the healthcare system, frailty, but not age alone, provides a fair and evidence-based means of triaging patients for critical care and could be included into ventilator allocation frameworks.