The literature on conscientious objection in medicine presents two key problems that remain unresolved: (a) Which conscientious objections in medicine are justified, if it is not feasible for individual medical practitioners to conclusively demonstrate the genuineness or reasonableness of their objections (“the justification problem”)? (b) How does one respect both medical practitioners’ claims of conscience and patients’ interests, without leaving practitioners complicit in perceived or actual wrongdoing (“the complicity problem”)? My aim in this paper is to offer a new framework for conscientious objections in medicine, which, by bringing medical professionals’ conscientious objection into the public realm, solves the justification and complicity problems. In particular, I will argue that: (a) an “Uber Conscientious Objection in Medicine Committee” (“UCOM Committee”)—which includes representatives from the medical community and from other professions, as well as from various religions and from the patient population—should assess various well-known conscientious objections in medicine in terms of public reason and decide which conscientious objections should be permitted, without hearing out individual conscientious objectors; (b) medical practitioners should advertise their (UCOM Committee preapproved) conscientious objections, ahead of time, in an online database that would be easily accessible to the public, without being required, in most cases, to refer patients to non-objecting practitioners.
Caring for dying patients is often a new experience for ICU residents. End-of-life and palliative training in medical schools is lacking. Many residents experience troublesome emotions during residency. Literature establishes that residents show lower well-being scores than similar populations. To make emotional wellness a priority for residents, monthly mandatory Palliative Care Rounds (PCR) were established in the ICU. The role of the Palliative Care Social Worker (PCSW) is central in planning and implementing PCR. Social workers have unique skills well-suited to this type of activity in an acute care setting. Residents present cases and the PCSW facilitates discussion to explore complex emotions helping residents process their feelings. Forty-five residents responded to a seven-item questionnaire, out of 70 potential resident respondents (64% response rate). Only 60% said they learned about end-of-life and its emotional aspects in medical school. Ninety-eight percent reported the PCR helped them be more aware of their feelings, and would recommend it to colleagues. Ninety-five percent said PCR are important for interns and residents to help them grow professionally and become better clinicians. Through the process of dissecting their emotions, PCR allows for personal and professional growth that improves residents’ ability to become empathic providers.
As nearly all doctors deal with patients requiring palliative care, it is imperative that palliative care education starts early. This study aimed to validate a national, palliative care competency framework for undergraduate medical curricula. We conducted a Delphi study with five groups of stakeholders (palliative care experts, physicians, nurses, curriculum coordinators, and junior doctors), inviting them to rate a competency list. The list was organized around six key competencies. For each competency, participants indicated the level to which students should have mastered the skill at the end of undergraduate training. Stability was reached after two rating rounds (N = 82 round 1, N = 54 round 2). The results showed high levels of agreement within and between stakeholder groups. Participants agreed that theoretical knowledge is not enough: Students must practice palliative care competencies, albeit to varying degrees. Overall, communication and personal development and well-being scored the highest: Junior doctors should be able to perform these in the workplace under close supervision. Advance care planning scored the lowest, indicating performance in a simulated setting. A wide range of stakeholders validated a palliative care competency framework for undergraduate medical curricula. This framework can be used to guide teaching about palliative care.
Background: The number of medical undergraduate and postgraduate students completing palliative care clinical rotations in Canadian medical schools is currently unknown. The aim of this study was to assess the proportion of Canadian medical trainees completing clinical rotations in palliative care and to determine whether changes took place between 2008 and 2018.
Methods: In this descriptive study, all Canadian medical schools (n = 17) were invited to provide data at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels (2007/08–2015/16 and 2007/08–2017/18, respectively). Information collected included the number, type and length of palliative care clinical rotations offered and the total number of medical trainees or residents enrolled at each school.
Results: All 17 Canadian medical schools responded to the request for information. At the undergraduate level, palliative care clinical rotations were not offered in 2 schools, mandatory in 2 and optional in 13. Three schools that offered optional rotations were unable to provide complete data and were therefore excluded from further analyses. In 2015/16, only 29.7% of undergraduate medical students completed palliative care clinical rotations, yet this was a significant improvement compared to 2011/12 (13.6%, p = 0.02). At the postgraduate level, on average, 57.9% of family medicine trainees completed such rotations between 2007/08 and 2016/17. During the same period, palliative care clinical rotations were completed by trainees in specialty or subspecialty programs in anesthesiology (34.2%), geriatric medicine (64.4%), internal medicine (30.9%), neurology (28.2%) and psychiatry (64.5%).
Interpretation: Between 2008 and 2018, a large proportion of Canadian medical trainees graduated without the benefit of a clinical rotation in palliative care. Without dedicated clinical exposure to palliative care, many physicians will enter practice without vital palliative care competencies.
"Kipal, le jeu du qui quoi comment en soins palliatifs" est un outil ludopédagogique élaboré par une infirmière et un médecin membres d’une équipe mobile de soins palliatifs au centre hospitalier de Vienne. Grâce à la création de cas patients fictifs et évolutifs au cours du jeu, les soignants participants peuvent appréhender des thèmes variés concernant les soins palliatifs de façon interactive. Les bénéfices attendus sont, une implication des apprenants devenant acteurs de leur formation, la dédramatisation du thème des soins palliatifs, la définition d’une démarche palliative et la découverte de la variété des prises en soin par la richesse des scénarios possibles. Pour cela, le jeu propose 16 situations cliniques brèves, issues de diverses spécialités, 46 cartes dites "évènement" (clinique, psychologique, social ou familial) et 62 cartes "suggestion" (ressources humaines et techniques disponibles) qui pourront être associées à l’infini à chaque partie. Cet outil est réservé aux professionnels des soins palliatifs lors de formations destinées à des soignants non spécialisés, mais exerçant auprès de personnes nécessitant des soins palliatifs. En perspective, des extensions pourront être développées pour s’adapter à un public plus large (pédiatrie, domicile). Soutenu par le Fonds pour les soins palliatifs et approuvé par la Société française d’accompagnement et de soins palliatifs (SFAP), 250 jeux Kipal ont été attribués lors du congrès francophone de soins palliatifs organisé par la SFAP et la Fédération francophone internationale de soins palliatifs en 2019.
BACKGROUND: Despite advances in medical care, pediatric deaths are still an unfortunate reality. Most of these deaths occur within a hospital setting. End-of-life care is an important part of medical care for children with serious illnesses. Despite the importance, pediatric providers report a lack of comfort surrounding end-of-life care.
OBJECTIVE: To assess categorical pediatric residents' perceptions and participation in providing end-of-life care to dying children and their families.
STUDY DESIGN: This is a survey-based, descriptive, mixed-methods study. Survey was sent to categorical pediatric residents at Indiana University School of Medicine in June 2018 to obtain both quantitative and qualitative information on resident perception and participation in end-of-life care. Surveys were sent to 100 residents with a response rate of 68%.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Pediatric residents at Indiana University School of Medicine.
RESULTS: The comfort and participation in end-of-life care are limited in all levels of pediatric training. Residents do not feel comfortable with 19 of 22 questions related to end-of-life care. Only 32% of residents felt their education prepared them to participate in end-of-life care. Almost one-fifth (19.5%) of residents report participating in zero aspect of end-of-life care. Themes discussed by residents include education, experience, communication, social norms, emotions, self-care, comfort, and family.
CONCLUSION: More formalized education and training is needed to increase resident comfort with and participation in end-of-life care. Such future interventions should focus on communication surrounding difficult conversations and providing guidance for families.
PURPOSE: International health electives (IHEs) provide numerous educational benefits; potential harms are less well understood. One potential harm is trainee distress associated with increased patient death during IHEs. The purpose of this study was to explore residents' and fellows' IHE experiences with patient death.
METHOD: The authors used applied thematic analysis to explore residents' and fellows' IHE experiences with patient death. The Mayo International Health Program supports IHEs from all specialties across three Mayo Clinic sites. Data were collected and analyzed in two steps. First the authors collected, coded, and analyzed narrative reflections from 43 postrotation reports gathered in 2001-2017 and identified themes relating to experiences with patient death. Second, in 2016-2017 the authors conducted semistructured interviews with six previous participants to refine thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Participants described impacts of experiencing increased patient death and identified themes in two domains: difficult experiences with patient death and potential interventions to help residents process their experiences. They identified four themes illustrating why these experiences were difficult: lack of preparation for increased exposure to death, lack of closure, consequences of limited resources, and differences in cultural beliefs regarding death. While pretrip preparation for dealing with death was viewed as important, trainees identified support during and debriefing after IHEs as additional important interventions.
CONCLUSIONS: Given the popularity of IHEs, residency programs should consider the effect on trainees of increased exposure to patient death. Study findings can inform IHE preparation, support, and debriefing to minimize distress associated with witnessing patient deaths on IHEs.
OBJECTIVE: To characterize how pediatric resident self-evaluation compares to standardized patient evaluations in simulated child death disclosure scenarios.
STUDY DESIGN: This was a prospective, observational, mixed-methods study in which 18 PGY-2 pediatric residents delivered the news of a death of a child to a trained standardized patient (SP) couple. The SPs evaluated residents via a quantitative global rating (1 to 3 scale) and via qualitative comments. Following the training, the residents completed self-assessments consisting of a global rating, qualitative comments, and their confidence related to five death disclosure skills.
RESULTS: Agreement between SPs and resident ratings was poor; resident scores were compared to each of their two SP evaluators yielding Kappa coefficients of -0.23 (95% CI = -0.60 to -0.07) and –0.30 (95% CI = -0.70 to –0.04). Residents uniformly rated themselves as less capable in their communication skills than SPs did. Residents reported significant increases in their confidence in discussing autopsy and organ donation. Major themes determined from the qualitative comments from SPs included non-verbal communication, verbal communication, attunement to parents, and management of next steps. Residents’ comments mirrored these themes with the exception of the absence of non-verbal communication.
CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric residents underestimated their abilities in a self-assessment of their performance in a SP death disclosure scenario, demonstrating the importance of external feedback, particularly from SPs themselves. Based on SP feedback, future death disclosure trainings should emphasize non-verbal communication skills and specific behaviors that convey effective attunement to families.
This study explores how medical students feel about caring for terminally ill patients as well as how their medical courses prepare them for addressing end-of-life (EOL) issues with patients. Four hundred and five Mexican medical students were surveyed through the Student Views on Death questionnaire. The vast majority of students (94%) felt that physicians should inform patients of their impending death. Most students said they felt comfortable talking with (61%) or examining (76%) terminally ill patients. However, only half the students actually talked with patients about death. Participants in our study were interested in learning about EOL medical attention, yet most considered themselves poorly prepared to offer this type of care to terminally ill patients. The study provides objective data on a topic that has scarcely been explored in Mexico, data that will be useful in designing educational activities to improve EOL medical training.
Palliative care (PC) is an essential part of the healthcare system, aiming to improve the quality of life of terminally ill patients and their families through prevention, relief of suffering, and providing psychosocial and spiritual support. To achieve high-quality PC, medical education should encompass PC training, including knowledge of PC, and skills and attitudes towards PC, at the undergraduate level. The aim of this study is to identify PC knowledge and experience among undergraduate medical and nursing students at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), a government university in Oman. A validated questionnaire that measures knowledge and experiences of PC was administered to all final year medical and nursing students (N = 196) at SQU. The majority of the students (93.4%) were aware of the term PC, but most of them (68.9%) did not have any experience of PC. Around half of the students (54.9%) had a vague notion of how to implement PC, and only 41.3% felt confident in providing PC for terminally ill patients. Less than half of the students (44.8%) were aware that the patient’s family should be included in PC, as well as the patient. The majority of students (71.3%) thought that PC should be included in the undergraduate teaching curriculum, though few students (17.9%) knew that PC is currently a specialized medical unit (sub-department) in Oman. Most of the students (73.0%) thought that terminally ill patients have the right to choose “do not resuscitate,” but few students agreed that patients should be able to request a lethal dose (24.0%) or consent to a physician-assisted suicide (35.7%). Most of the students (84.7%) believed that special psychological support should be provided for doctors and nurses working in PC. Bivariate analysis showed no significance in the knowledge of applied PC in relation to which of the colleges the students were from (p = 0.283) or gender of the students (p = 0.068). Despite the fact that SQU students had favorable attitudes towards PC, they have insufficient knowledge and lack of experience. As the number of geriatric and terminal cancer patients increases across Oman, there is a need for the healthcare system to provide high-quality and effective PC services. Thus, there is an urgent need to integrate PC teaching courses as part of the undergraduate medical education for medical and nursing students.
Lorsqu’un jeune étudiant en médecine décide de vivre, de l’intérieur, les joies et les peines d’un service de soins palliatifs, il fait un choix difficile. À distance de l’impératif thérapeutique, partant à la découverte des aspérités d’une humanité en suspens, Amaury Cinquin livre à Laennec une expérience forte. Durant ces semaines, il s’est exercé à l’empathie, a découvert des souffrances apparemment sans issue. Il s’est attaché à comprendre en quoi une certaine organisation institutionnelle permet à tous, soignants et patients, de mieux vivre des situations difficiles. Prenant du recul sur ses études et sa future pratique, il a quitté la Maison Jeanne-Garnier avec un autre regard sur la mort.
BACKGROUND: The General Medical Council expects medical graduates to care for dying patients with skill, clinical judgement and compassion. UK surveys continually demonstrate low confidence and increasing distress amongst junior doctors when providing care to the dying.
AIM: This systematic review aims to determine what has been evidenced within worldwide literature regarding medical undergraduate confidence to care for dying patients.
DESIGN: A systematic electronic search was undertaken. Data extraction included measurements of baseline confidence, associated assessment tools and details of applied educational interventions. Pre/postintervention confidence comparisons were made. Factors influencing confidence levels were explored.
DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, ISI Web of Science, ERIC, PsycINFO, British Education Index and Cochrane Review databases were accessed, with no restrictions on publication year. Eligible studies included the terms 'medical student', 'confidence' and 'dying', alongside appropriate MeSH headings. Study quality was assessed using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool.
RESULTS: Fifteen eligible studies were included, demonstrating a diversity of assessment tools. Student confidence was low in provision of symptom management, family support, and psycho-spiritual support to dying patients. Eight interventional studies demonstrated increased postinterventional confidence. Lack of undergraduate exposure to dying patients and lack of structure within undergraduate palliative care curricula were cited as factors responsible for low confidence.
CONCLUSION: This review clarifies the objective documentation of medical undergraduate confidence to care for the dying. Identifying where teaching fails to prepare graduates for realities in clinical practice will help inform future undergraduate palliative care curriculum planning.
PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42019119057.
Death is ubiquitous and inevitable. Many of us have had some experience with death in our personal lives, and as clinicians and researchers, we address death either directly or indirectly, almost every day. Still, there remains significant debate and gaps in knowledge regarding the biology of death, as well as the medical and ethical issues concerning death and dying. This multi-disciplinary issue of the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine is devoted to exploring the major advances and unresolved questions about death. We present 25 articles representing contributions from researchers that examine death at different biological scales and that provide legal, medical, and ethical perspectives on the process of dying.
[Début de l'article]
Background: Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in Canada came into effect in 2016 with the passing of Bill C-14. As patient interest and requests for MAID continue to evolve in Canada, it is important to understand the attitudes of future providers and the factors that may influence their participation. Attitudes towards physician hastened death (PHD) in general and the specific provision of MAID (e.g., causing death by lethal prescription or injection) are unknown among Canadian residents. This study examined residents’ attitudes towards PHD and MAID, and identified factors (e.g., demographics, clinical exposure to death and dying) that may influence their decision to participate in PHD and provide MAID.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was adapted from prior established surveys on MAID to reflect the Canadian setting. All Canadian family medicine programs were invited to participate. The survey was distributed between December 2016 and April 2017. Analysis of the results included descriptive statistics to characterize the survey participants and multivariable logistic regressions to identify factors that may influence residents’ attitudes towards PHD and MAID.
Results: Overall, 247 residents from 6 family medicine training programs in Canada participated (response rate of 27%). While residents were most willing to participate in treatment withdrawal (52%), active participation in PHD (41%) and MAID by prescription of a lethal drug (31%) and lethal injection (24%) were less acceptable. Logistic regressions identified religion as a consistent and significant factor impacting residents’ willingness to participate in PHD and MAID. Residents who were not strictly practicing a religion were more likely to be willing to participate in PHD (OR = 17.38, p < 0.001) and MAID (lethal drug OR = 10.55, p < 0.01, lethal injection OR = 8.54, p < 0.05). Increased clinical exposure to death and dying crudely correlated with increased willingness to participate in PHD and MAID, but when examined in multivariable models, only a few activities (e.g., declaring death, completing a death certificate) had a statistically significant association. Other significant factors included the residents’ sex and location of training.
Conclusions: Residents are hesitant to provide MAID themselves, with religious faith being a major factor impacting their decision.
BACKGROUND: Physicians play a fundamental role in the care of patients at the end of life that includes knowing how to accompany patients, alleviate their suffering and inform them about their situation. However, in reality, doctors are part of this society that is reticent to face death and lack the proper education to manage it in their clinical practice. The objective of this study was to explore the residents' concepts of death and related aspects, their reactions and actions in situations pertaining to death in their practice, and their perceptions about existing and necessary training conditions.
METHODS: A qualitative approach was used to examine these points in depth based on interviews conducted with seven oncology residents.
RESULTS: Participants do not have a clear concept of death and, although it is seen as a common phenomenon, they consider it an enemy to beat. The situations to which respondents react more frequently with frustration and sadness after the death of patients were when they felt emotionally involved, if they identify with the patient, in cases of pediatric patients and with patients who refuse treatment. To deal with death, participants raise barriers and attempt to become insensitive. Although residents in this study recognize the importance of training to learn how to better deal with death, it seems they are not fully invested in reaching more of it.
CONCLUSIONS: Participants face death in a daily basis without the necessary training, which appears to impact them more than they are willing to accept. They do not achieve their goals managing situations regarding death as well as they assume they do. Despite recognizing the need of more training and support for better coping with death, they prefer to continue to learn from their experience.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Not applicable.
Background: Advance directives have been established as a legal document that ensures patients' wishes are followed if/when they cannot make medical decisions for themselves. The concept, advance directive, is rooted in the ethical principle of patient's autonomy. New York State recognizes three types of advance directives: New York State Health Care Proxy, Living Wills, and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. A common misnomer in healthcare is the idea that advance directives are for the elderly or patients with terminal illness. As per New York State statutes, everyone older than 18-years-old should have an advance directive to avoid conflicts in times of crisis. It has been shown that most patients believe it is their physician's responsibility to initiate an advance directive discussion and residents are at the forefront of most health facilities.
Objective: To assess the knowledge and attitude of internal medicine residents towards advance directive and to improve residents' skills and confidence on advance directive discussion.
Design: We carried out a prospective study to assess the knowledge and attitude of the internal medicine residents towards advance directive to validate the need to implement didactic sessions and simulations. Results: Fifty out of the 75 internal medicine residents of Harlem Hospital Center participated in the study. Most of the responders indicated that they lacked sufficient knowledge in advance directive discussion and indicated that they were interested in didactic sessions and simulations related to how to help patients with advance directives.
Conclusion: Our study showed that most of the residents lacked sufficient knowledge in advance directives discussions and the importance of its incorporation into residency training education.
Background: Recognising dying is a key clinical skill for doctors, yet there is little training.
Aim: To assess the effectiveness of an online training resource designed to enhance medical students’ ability to recognise dying.
Design: online multicentre double-blind randomised controlled trial (NCT03360812). The training resource for the intervention group was developed from a group of expert palliative care doctors’ weightings of various signs/symptoms to recognise dying. The control group received no training.
Setting/participants: Participants were senior UK medical students. They reviewed 92 patient summaries and provided a probability of death within 72 hours (0% certain survival – 100% certain death) pre, post, and 2 weeks after the training. Primary outcome: (1) Mean Absolute Difference (MAD) score between participants’ and the experts’ scores, immediately post intervention. Secondary outcomes: (2) weight attributed to each factor, (3) learning effect and (4) level of expertise (Cochran–Weiss–Shanteau (CWS)).
Results: Out of 168 participants, 135 completed the trial (80%); 66 received the intervention (49%). After using the training resource, the intervention group had better agreement with the experts in their survival estimates (dMAD = -3.43, 95% CI -0.11 to -0.34, p = <0.001) and weighting of clinical factors. There was no learning effect of the MAD scores at the 2-week time point (dMAD = 1.50, 95% CI -0.87 to 3.86, p = 0.21). At the 2-week time point, the intervention group was statistically more expert in their decision-making versus controls (intervention CWS = 146.04 (SD 140.21), control CWS = 110.75 (SD 104.05); p = 0.01).
Conclusion: The online training resource proved effective in altering the decision-making of medical students to agree more with expert decision-making.
Introduction: Do not resuscitate (DNR) is a medical procedure for patients who are suffering from critical, untreatable, and irreversible disease where the patient's life is predicted to end. DNR is considered a sensitive decision for patients and their relatives, as well as physicians.
Aim: This study is aimed to assess the knowledge and attitude of medical students and interns toward the DNR order and the factors affecting their attitude at the King Abdulaziz University Hospital (KAUH) in Jeddah.
Methods: Nonintervention cross-sectional study was conducted among 429 medical students (preclinical and clinical years) and interns who were given an online questionnaire between May and June in 2016 at KAUH in 18 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Results: Our study indicates that most of the participants (73.2%) were familiar with DNR order; however, more than half of them (58.3%) did not take any lecture or session on DNR. Large proportion of medical students had the opinion that attending a lecture or session on DNR would help them discuss it more skillfully with the patients and their relatives. More than half of the participants (55%) believed that there is a Fatwa that regulates DNR on the Islamic level.
Conclusion: Participants, who were interns, were more familiar with the term DNR, whereas the 2nd-year medical students were less familiar with DNR. Considering the variation in the knowledge of participants about DNR, we conclude that additional lectures and sessions about DNR should be added to the medical school curriculum to make the students more confident and able in handling the DNR discussions.
Les soins palliatifs sont-ils envisageables en médecine chronique ? Quels rôles les infirmiers peuvent avoir dans cette perspective ? Que peuvent-ils apporter ?
Voici les premières questions sur lesquelles je me penche dans ce mémoire réflexif. De nombreux auteurs et même la Haute Autorité de Santé s'accordent sur un développement d'une prise en soin holistique et personnalisée pour les patients atteints de pathologies chroniques, même si le mot palliatif ne fait pas l'unanimité. La deuxième interrogation sur le rôle infirmier est plus complexe à aborder de part la diversité d'exercice mais aussi l'histoire de cette profession. Les éléments de réponse tendent à démontrer des liens unissant soins palliatifs et soins infirmiers, dans une vision holistique des patients, un respect, une remise en question du projet de soin et une place particulière dans la coordination des soins.
Ses éléments de réponse m'amènent à une dernière et indispensable interrogation : comment cela est-il réalisable ? Comment les infirmiers pourraient faciliter la mise en place des soins palliatifs ? La réponse semble simple : l'interdisciplinarité, mais elle présente des conditions à respecter.
Les articles de ce volume cherchent à comprendre la souffrance à partir de ses propres représentations et soulignent la nécessaire articulation des discours littéraires, philosophiques, psychanalytiques et médicaux pour cerner ce fait social et moral total qu'est l'expérience, vécue et vivante, de la souffrance.