Tag Archives: Transparency

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 “scarce medical resources” and lying to the patient – do these go hand in hand? Clinical Bioethics

Rationing “scarce medical resources” and lying to the patient – do these go hand in hand? 7 comments Claudia Ruiz M.D • I don’t think so, I’m from Mexico, and I have worked plenty with the mayan communities, they really don’t have any acces to medicines o medical attention. We did our best to get them what they need, but sometimes it is impossible. Anyways, I never lie to my patients, they deserve to know the truth always. Maybe it is a different situation in the United States and the HMOs, but in principle, I don’t think it is ethical…

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…

Withdrawing Life Sustaining Treatment -From Conscious, Non Terminal, Incompetent Part II Withdrawal/Withholding of Care

Physician Liability: Withdrawing and Withholding Life Sustaining Care From  Conscious, Non Terminal, Incompetent Patients – Part II There are different standards that must be appreciated and respected before a physician can support a decision to withdraw life sustaining treatment from a non terminal and incompetent patient. This scenario requires the highest degree of protection for the patient. Our fundamental rights are the most important when we are the most vulnerable. Patients in this category are weak, often confused and subject to the effect of bias and undue influence. When illness requires life sustaining treatment family members may experience sympathy for…

Letting the Conscious Non-Terminal, Incompetent, Patient Die: Hold On a Minute – Not So Fast – Part I Withdrawal/Withholding of Care

It is an injustice to cause patients to unnecessarily prolong the process of dying. Actual futile care must be avoided. But it is equally an injustice to easily acquiesce to patient’s demands that my result in unnecessary death. On August 17, 2010 the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decided a case involving a non-terminal, profoundly mentally retarded patient. The patient was conscious and non-terminal. David is 53 years old. David’s parents were the guardians. His parents argued that putting him on the ventilator was not in his best interest and requested terminal extubation. The hospital refused. After several weeks his condition…

Withdrawing Life Sustaining Treatment – Betancourt v Trinitas – Appellate Court Decision Bioethics Conflicts

The New Jersey Superior Court–Appellate Division dismissed the appeal in Betancourt v Trinitas finding the appeal moot. The court stressed it’s concern over the  “sparse record” presented at the time of  the original hearing in the trial court as well as on appeal and found that the evidence was not “conclusive in several areas necessary to fully adjudicate the substantial issues raised.” This is sometimes referred to as insufficiency of evidence. If the person or entity bringing the case does not provide sufficient evidence the court will dismiss the claim. In this case Tinitas Hospital’s request to withdraw the ventilator….

Withdrawing Life Sustaining Treatment – Betancourt v Trinitas – Life, Not Policy Withdrawal/Withholding of Care

Ruben Betancourt, 72 years old, was unconscious following the dislodging of a ventilator breathing tube after surgery at Trinitas Medical Center, which resulted in anoxic encephalopathy. He was readmitted to Trinitas in July 2008 with a diagnosis of renal failure. He received dialysis treatments, remained on a ventilator, and feeding tube. The physicians at Trinitas diagnosed Mr. Betancourt as being in a persistent vegetative state and told the family of their intention to stop dialysis and allow him to die. The Superior Court in New Jersey held a two day hearing and thereafter enjoined the hospital from withdrawing life support without the consent…

Red Flag Rules and the Practice of Medicine Abandonment

Red Flags Rules require financial institutions and businesses that give credit to consumers to establish some sort of program or procedure to identify customers who may be involved in identity theft. Since most medical providers provide medical services and allow the patient to pay their bill at a later time, and in concert with insurance benefits, the FTC intends to treat medical practice as a “creditor” and thus come within the scope of Red Flag rules. “Creditor” is defined by this law as any business or organization that defers payments for goods or services.”     On May 21, 2010…

Funding for physician discussion of end-of life decisions Clinical Bioethics

Each patient deserves more than a brief discussion about end of life decision-making. In  “A Piece of My Mind” section of this month’s JAMA (volume 303, No.13, April 7, 2010) Paul Kettl M.D. argues for monetary compensation to be provided to physicians for end of life discussion and planning. He fails to make clear, however, that the decision rests with the patient, not what is best for the family. Physicians must be careful not to wear too many hats and should turn to skilled clinical bioethicists and if necessary the Hospital Ethics Committee for review and recommendations. This will protect…

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…