Questions related to end-of-life decision making are common in clinical ethics and may be exceedingly difficult. Chief among these are the provision of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and do-not-resuscitate orders (DNRs). To better address such questions, clarity is needed on the values of medical ethics that underlie CPR and the relevant moral framework for making treatment decisions. An informed consent model is insufficient to provide justification for CPR. Instead, ethical justification for CPR rests on the rule of rescue and on substituted interest judgments. Patients' known wishes and values are relevant, particularly in protecting them from unwanted CPR. Clinicians should rescue patients with the means at their disposal, as a prima facie moral imperative, unless there are compelling reasons to refrain. We present a moral framework for making decisions regarding CPR and DNR.
BACKGROUND: Research demonstrates that the attitudes of religious physicians toward end-of-life care treatment can differ substantially from their nonreligious colleagues. While there are various religious perspectives regarding treatment near the end of life, the attitudes of Muslim physicians in this area are largely unknown.
OBJECTIVE: This article attempts to fill in this gap by presenting American Muslim physician attitudes toward end-of-life care decision-making and by examining associations between physician religiosity and these attitudes.
METHODS: A randomized national sample of 626 Muslim physicians completed a mailed questionnaire assessing religiosity and end-of-life care attitudes. Religiosity, religious practice, and bioethics resource utilization were analyzed as predictors of quality-of-life considerations, attitudes regarding withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, and end-of-life treatment recommendations at the bivariate and multivariable level.
RESULTS: Two-hundred fifty-five (41% response rate) respondents completed surveys. Most physicians reported that religion was either very or the most important part of their life (89%). Physicians who reported consulting Islamic bioethics literature more often had higher odds of recommending active treatment over hospice care in an end-of-life case vignette. Physicians who were more religious had higher odds of viewing withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment more ethically and psychologically challenging than withholding it and had lower odds of agreeing that one should always comply with a competent patient's request to withdraw life-sustaining treatment.
DISCUSSION: Religiosity appears to impact Muslim physician attitudes toward various aspects of end-of-life health-care decision-making. Greater research is needed to evaluate how this relationship manifests itself in patient care conversations and shared clinical decision-making in the hospital.
OBJECTIVE: This article sought to explore ethical issues associated with prioritization decisions in palliative care.
METHODS: As part of a broader series of studies of triage in palliative care, this qualitative substudy was conducted via semi-structured focus groups and individual interviews. Transcripts were subjected to thematic analysis.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS:: Twenty health professionals working across disciplines (primary, specialist; medicine, nursing, and allied health), service types (inpatient, hospital liaison, and community), and locations (metropolitan and rural) in Victoria, Australia.
RESULTS:: Four themes emerged from the data: (1) Clinicians understood the tension between maintaining service quality with the delivery of a compromised service that sought to respond to demand. (2) They were aware of the influences of relationships and responsibilities upon patient waiting list prioritization, and (3) reported a hierarchy of suffering with certain types of clinical problems viewed as more urgent than others, for example, pain being more urgent than existential distress. (4) Clinicians noted a lack of transparency around waiting lists as they currently exist.
CONCLUSIONS: This study revealed key ethical decision-making issues associated with prioritizing access to palliative care services. Making explicit the processes and influences upon decision-making provides greater transparency of health-care utilization at the end of life.
La prise en charge d’un patient en fin de vie à son domicile demande une réflexion pluridisciplinaire de tous les intervenants. L’information de la personne et de ses proches ainsi que la prise en compte de tous les aspects de l’accompagnement doivent mener à des prises de décision collégiales. La prise en charge est alors globale autour d’un projet de soins concerté.
This perspective review considers analytic features of the design of a longitudinal trial regarding antimicrobial therapy in older terminal cancer patients receiving palliative care. We first overview antimicrobial use at the end of life; both the potential hazards and benefits. Antimicrobial prescribing should consider both initiation as well as cessation of medications when analyzing the burden of medications. Approaches to decision making regarding antimicrobial use are presented and the importance of health literacy in these decision processes. We next present aspects of both feasibility and comparative trial design with a health literacy intervention to reduce antimicrobial use in older terminal cancer patients receiving palliative care. Considerations to clustered randomization and given that infections can reoccur over a trial period, we share suggestions of longitudinal modeling of clustered randomized trial data.
La décision partagée est celle que le patient prend avec son médecin. Lorsqu’il ne peut plus exprimer sa volonté, la décision est prise par ce dernier à l’issue d’une procédure collégiale. Au sein de ce dispositif, les directives anticipées sont consultées et le témoignage de la personne de confiance pris en compte, à défaut celui des proches. Complétée par la concertation au sein de l’équipe de soins, la procédure constitue une démarche partagée sur le plan de la réflexion et de la responsabilité éthique.
La prise de décision partagée correspond à l’un des modèles de décision médicale où patient et professionnels de santé délibèrent autour des options disponibles et les hiérarchisent selon les préférences du patient. Des aides à la décision peuvent les aider dans ce dialogue. Elles participent à l’amélioration de la qualité des soins.
La loi Leonetti du 22 avril 2005 a posé un cadre législatif définissant l’obstination déraisonnable, que l’on nommait précédemment l’acharnement thérapeutique. La décision de ce qui est raisonnable ou non dans la mise en place ou la poursuite de traitements soit curatifs soit de maintien artificiel de la vie renvoie à une question éthique sur la fin de vie. C’est en interrogeant cette éthique de fin de vie que l’aide-soignante peut parvenir à vivre au mieux toute décision médicale en lien avec une problématique d’obstination déraisonnable.
La tension entre les valeurs en conflit peut faire naître des désaccords au sein de l’équipe de soins. Face à un choix crucial, grave et irréversible, la déontologie n’est plus suffisante : elle doit être assortie d’une réunion d’éthique ad hoc. La délibération collégiale repose sur un “contrat moral” entre les membres de l’équipe qui s’engagent à respecter les principes de l’éthique et les règles de l’éthique de discussion, en tant que repères communément partagés.
La décision médicale partagée est un processus complexe, notamment concernant l’arrêt des traitements spécifiques en oncologie. D’une part, le patient, plus vulnérable du fait d’une maladie avancée, et ses proches, redoutent cette interruption. D’autre part, l’oncologue dispose de plus en plus de possibilités thérapeutiques grâce aux avancées médicales réalisées ces dernières années. Une étude prospective observationnelle a été menée en oncologie. Elle s’est intéressée aux motifs faisant émerger le questionnement, au degré de concordance entre les différents interlocuteurs (équipe de soins palliatifs, oncologue, patients et proches) et à la décision finalement prise.
La décision médicale d’un prélèvement d’organes est un acte que la loi tend à réduire et à soumettre à une simple logique juridique. La complexité et l’extrême sensibilité des principes, valeurs et sentiments humains en jeu ne s’accommodent pas de cette simplification. Le processus décisionnel fait intervenir plusieurs parties et respecte la temporalité des familles.
Le diagnostic anténatal aboutit parfois à une décision d’interruption médicale de grossesse (IMG). Il s’agit d’une décision partagée par le corps médical et le couple concernant leur futur enfant, juridiquement reconnu comme fœtus tout au long de la grossesse. Les IMG pour indications fœtales ne peuvent être décidées qu’à l’issue d’un parcours de soins où patientes, couples et soignants se doivent d’aboutir à un projet d’avenir “digne et acceptable” pour l’enfant attendu.
Le concept de décision médicale partagée est particulièrement adapté aux soins palliatifs. Dans les équipes, le rôle des psychologues s’articule au quotidien avec celui des médecins et des soignants pour prendre en considération le sujet dans sa globalité et sa singularité. L’accompagnement d’une patiente âgée de 29 ans illustre les enjeux de cette prise de décision.
Although shared decision-making is a standard in medical care, unilateral decisions through process-based conflict resolution policies have been defended in certain cases. In patients who do not stand to receive proportional clinical benefits, the harms involved in interventions such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation seem to run contrary to the principle of non-maleficence, and provision of such interventions may cause clinicians significant moral distress. However, because the application of these policies involves taking choices out of the domain of shared decision-making, they face important ethical and legal problems, including a recent challenge to their constitutionality. In light of these concerns, we suggest a re-conceptualization of informed non-dissent as an alternative approach in cases where the application of process-based policies is being considered. This clinician-directed communication model still preserves what is valuable in such policies and salvages professional integrity, while minimising ethical and legal challenges.
Background: Physicians play a substantial role in facilitating communication regarding life-supporting treatment decision-making including do-not-resuscitate (DNR) in the intensive care units (ICU). Physician-related factors including gender, personal preferences to life-supporting treatment, and specialty have been found to affect the timing and selection of life-supporting treatment decision-making. This study aimed to examine the influence of physician workload on signing a DNR order in the ICUs.
Methods: This is retrospective observational study. The medical records of patients, admitted to the surgical ICUs for the first time between June 1, 2011 and December 31, 2013, were reviewed. We used a multivariate Cox proportional hazards model to examine the influence of the physician’s workload on his/her writing a DNR order by adjusting for multiple factors. We then used Kaplan–Meier survival curves with log-rank test to compare the time from ICU admission to DNR orders written for patients for two groups of physicians based on the average number of patients each physician cared for per day during data collection period.
Results: The hazard of writing a DNR order by the attending physicians who cared for more than one patient per day significantly decreased by 41% as compared to the hazard of writing a DNR order by those caring for fewer than one patient (hazard ratio = 0.59, 95% CI 0.39—0.89, P = .01). In addition, the factors associated with writing a DNR order as determined by the Cox model were non-operative, cardiac failure/insufficiency diagnosis (hazard ratio = 1.71, 95% CI 1.00—2.91, P = .05) and the Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System score (hazard ratio = 1.02, 95% CI 1.00—1.03, P = .03). Physicians who cared for more than one patient per day were less likely to write a DNR order for their patients than those who cared for in average fewer than one patient per day (log-rank chi-square = 5.72, P = .02).
Conclusions: Our findings highlight the need to take multidisciplinary actions for physicians with heavy workloads. Changes in the work environmental factors along with stress management programs to improve physicians’ psychological well-being as well as the quality.
BACKGROUND: Red blood cell transfusion is one therapeutic option for the treatment of anemia. Current transfusion practices and factors influencing the decision to prescribe this therapy are not well understood.
OBJECTIVE: To explore current transfusion practices, attitudes, and factors that influence the decision to transfuse among palliative care physicians.
DESIGN: Self-administered questionnaire addressing clinical experiences and decision making pertaining to blood transfusion.
SETTING/SUBJECTS: Specialist palliative care physicians at two Canadian academic centers.
MEASUREMENTS: Descriptive, presented as the number/proportion of respondents indicating a specific answer.
RESULTS: Of 62 physicians surveyed, 29 (47%) responded to the study questionnaire. For patients with solid tumors and hematologic malignancies, respectively, 79% and 82% of respondents reported prescribing blood transfusion; 59% and 46% reported that they would seldom recommend its discontinuation. Factors influential in the decision to transfuse included symptoms of anemia (97%), bleeding (62%), low hemoglobin (52%, of whom 87% indicated a hemoglobin threshold <70 g/L), and pressure from patients/families (48%). Physicians routinely reassessed patients for symptomatic improvement following transfusion, but 72% did not use an objective symptom scale. Twenty-six (90%) respondents believed that transfusion provided symptomatic benefit; the majority had observed adverse reactions to transfusion. Most perceived a lack of evidence to guide transfusion therapy in palliative care, and 79% indicated willingness to enroll their patients in a trial aiming to address this question.
CONCLUSIONS: Most palliative care specialists consider red blood cell transfusion to have a role in symptom management, but many clinical and nonclinical factors influence their decisions to provide or discontinue transfusions. Prospective clinical trials will likely be needed to inform transfusion practices in this population.
BACKGROUND: We attempted to identify factors associated with physicians' decisions to terminate CPR and to explore the role of family in the decision-making process.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective observational study in a single center in Taiwan. Patients who experienced in-hospital cardiac arrest (IHCA) between 2006 and 2014 were screened for study inclusion. Multivariate survival analysis was conducted to identify independent variables associated with IHCA outcomes using the Cox proportional hazards model.
RESULTS: A total of 1525 patients were included in the study. Family was present at the beginning of CPR during 722 (47.3%) resuscitation events. The median CPR duration was significantly shorter for patients with family present at the beginning of CPR than for those without family present (23.5 mins vs 30 min, p = 0.01). Some factors were associated with shorter time to termination of CPR, including arrest in an intensive care unit, Charlson comorbidity index score greater than 2, age older than 79 years, baseline evidence of motor, cognitive, or functional deficits, and vasopressors in place at time of arrest. After adjusting for confounding effects, family presence was associated with shorter time to termination of CPR (hazard ratio, 1.25; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-1.46; p = 0.008).
CONCLUSION: Clinicians' decisions concerning when to terminate CPR seemed to be based on outcome prognosticators. Family presence at the beginning of CPR was associated with shorter duration of CPR. Effective communication, along with outcome prediction tools, may avoid prolonged CPR efforts in an East Asian society.
On 19 June 2019, the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 (Vic) will be enacted. Up to ten per cent of people deemed eligible for voluntary assisted dying will be medically suitable for organ donation. Donation after circulatory death after assisted dying is possible, although there are important challenges to address for donation to be successful in this context. This article explores the practical and ethical considerations that need to be reviewed in order to support organ donation after assisted dying. In particular, it discusses the ways in which organ donation will affect the place, timing and mechanism of death, and the ethics around consent for donation. The article explores potential ways to minimise warm ischaemic time, and finally discusses the potential for donation to influence the decision to consume the voluntary assisted dying substance.
OBJECTIVES: To describe the use of acute resuscitation plans (ARPs) among patients on a subacute geriatric ward and to identify factors associated with use of ARPs in these patients.
METHODS: The hospital records of all patients admitted to the geriatric medicine ward in 2016 were retrospectively audited.
RESULTS: An ARP was completed before separation for 333/442 (75.3%) admissions. In the event of arrest, 240 (54.3%) patients had an ARP specifying “care of the dying”, 93 (21.0%) had an ARP specifying “cardiopulmonary resuscitation” and 109 (24.7%) had no resuscitation plan. Age 85-94 years (OR 1.65, P = 0.04) and =95 years (OR 9.59, P = 0.003), as well as Charlson index of comorbidity =2 (OR 3.4, P < 0.001), Australian-born (OR 2.09, P = 0.002) and admission during October-December (OR 3.81, P < 0.001) were independently associated with increased use of ARPs.
CONCLUSIONS: Acute resuscitation plan use was associated with older age, higher comorbidity, birth in Australia and admission later in the year.