Tag Archives: Autonomy

The Problem with POLST – Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment Autonomy

The Problem with POLST Over the years, informed consent has been given short shrift. There is, however, a growing understanding of the importance of obtaining an actual and legitimate consent before  having a patient accept or reject medical treatment. Autonomy, transparency, respect, dignity, and other similarly recognized human rights are increasingly recognized as legal and ethical requirements. “POLST” (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) however, makes it easy and even inviting to avoid these requirements with the stroke of a pen on a conclusionary form. POLST only makes sense in cases of patients with terminal illnesses, in end stage disease with no…

Waiting for medical records “after discharge” is of no help for decision making Autonomy

Medical records: Waiting for medical records “after discharge” is of no help.  Reviewing medical records  in the hospital allows the patient and/or a surrogate decision maker to obtain the greatest amount of information possible over the cross section of medical specialties providing care.  It provides a clear picture of the condition of the patient with respect to cognition, pain and prognosis. Review of reports of CT scans, x-rays, and MRI’s can bring a clear picture of improvement and deterioration in the patient’s condition. All of this will ensure that consent is based upon complete information and make it easier for…

Autonomy: the Basis of Respect and Dignity Abandonment

“Be a good girl and take your medicine.” Part 1 This statement was made to a 60 year old end stage leukemia patient who demanded to be discharged from the hospital. The patient refused the prescribed medications.  No attempt was made to discuss the risks attendant in not taking the prescribed medication. The patient was cogent and articulate – able to make medical decisions for herself. The physician walked out of the patient’s room in the ICU. No social worker, bioethicist had been called to assist. Patient Jane was merely told, “Be a good girl and take your medicine.” What…

FCC adopts rules for Medcial Body Area Networks Autonomy

The FCC adopted rules for Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs), with multiple body-worn sensors “MBAN” that monitor blood glucose, pressure monitoring, electrocardiogram readings, and even neonatal monitoring systems. The monitors can be used in the hospital setting, nursing facilities to identify life-threatening symptoms before they reach critical levels. Under Part 95 of Medical Device “MedRadio” Service no application will be required to use body area networks According to a study by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a monitored hospital patient has a 48% chance of surviving a cardiac arrest—this number plummets as low as 6% without monitoring.   The challenge…

Withdrawing Life Sustaining Treatment – End of Life Care: the Doctor-Patient Relationship A Refusal to Communicate Clinical Bioethics

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published an article entitled: “ The Palliative Care Information Act in Real Life,” (NEJM 364;No.20 May 2011), regarding a New York statute that requires a physician to have discussions of end of life treatment options with the patient when the patient is “terminally ill.” Alan Astrow MD and Beth Popp, MD, the authors of the article, are troubled by the phrase terminal illness. They argue that the definition in the statute is vague and an improper interference with the physician-patient relationship. The fact that they find the phrase, “terminal illness” troublesome, is troublesome. The…

Rationing Medical Care Part II Clinical Bioethics

Efforts to encourage (or compel) physicians to lie to their patients were faced years ago when “gag clauses” were inserted into contracts between HMO’s and contracted physicians. The gag clause established a contractual obligation on the part of the physician to withhold information regarding treatment modalities that were not within the HMO protocol of allowable categories of care.  Contractually, it is common to exclude specific types or categories of care – “We will pay for this, we won’t pay for that.” Every contract of insurance has exclusions. Gag clauses, however, go further. They contractually bar physicians from fulfilling their fiduciary duties…

Use of Feeding Tubes in Patients with Advanced Dementia is Higher in For-Profit Facilities Clinical Bioethics

 Dementia is now a leading cause of death in the United States A study was published this week in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) regarding nursing home patients with advanced dementia and who have feeding tubes inserted. The results showed that the frequency of feeding tubes is  greater in for-profit hospitals versus government or state owned hospitals.  "A higher rate of feeding tube insertions also was independently associated with for-profit ownership vs hospitals owned by state or local government… White residents had the lowest likelihood of feeding tube insertion, while black residents experienced nearly a 2-fold increase in…

Parental Liability for Failure to Seek Care for their Child Clinical Bioethics

A verdict was rendered yesterday (Feb. 2, 2010) in Oregon City Oregon finding Jeffrey and Marci Beagley, Oregon City’s Followers of Christ Church, guilty of criminally negligent homicide in the death of their 16-year-old son, Neil. Their son died in June 2008 due to a chronic undiagnosed urinary blockage. Neil became significantly ill about one week before his death due to renal failure. He became weak, could not get out of his bed, and had pain in his abdomen and restricted breathing. Jeffrey and Marci Beagley’s Christian faith called for them to seek healing from the Lord and thus as Neil…

Same Sex Domestic Partners and Medical Decision Makers Autonomy

The Senate Judiciary and Public Affairs committee in New Mexico passed (5 to 4) the Domestic Partnership Bill – 800 pages long that gives unmarried same-sex and opposite-sex couples the legal protections and benefits of married couples on issues including medical decision-making. It is anticipated that republicans will oppose.   It must be made clear that patients are not restricted in nomination who ever they want to act as their surrogate decision makers. It is the person who best knows the patients wishes and values that should act as the surrogate decision maker in all instances.   Some states provide…

Death Panels and Advanced Care Planning Autonomy

A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, discusses the need for effective public health announcements to encourage people to explain their end of life wishes and their values, goals and preferences. It has been well established that physicians are reluctant to discuss end of life choices with their patients and the norm has been to put it off until the patient is in advanced terminal disease when it is, indeed, more difficult to discuss. Studies have also shown that the majority of patients said they would choose to forego futile care but few are presented…