The Limits of Proxy Decision Making: Overtreatment
Fried, Terri R.
Gillick, Muriel R.
Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. 1995 Fall; 4(4): 524-529.
Traditionally, surrogates have been involved principally in making decisions about life-sustaining treatment for incompetent individuals. Today, surrogates are increasingly called upon to make everyday medical decisions for patients who are incompetent because they are demented. Some of the potential perils of proxy decision making under these circumstances have been identified, including the lack of concordance between patients and their proxies, demands by proxies for technically futile therapy, and actual abuse of patients. We found a significant number of cases in which healthcare providers at a long-term care facility came into conflict with surrogates because the treatment desired by the surrogate was viewed as excessively burdensome when evaluated by an experienced team of nurses, physicians, and social workers. Neither a court-appointed guardian nor an institutional ethics committees were likely to be able to resolve these conflicts because of lack of clarity about what constitutes the best interest of impaired nursing home patients. The following case illustrates this increasingly common conflict.
Aged; Allowing to Die; Autonomy; Case Studies; Consent; Decision Making; Dementia; Ethics; Ethics Committees; Family Members; Guidelines; Hospitals; Informed Consent; Institutional Ethics; Institutional Policies; Life; Long-Term Care; Motivation; Nurses; Nursing Homes; Organizations; Patient Care; Patient Care Team; Patients; Physicians; Professional Organizations; Prolongation of Life; Proxy; Psychological Stress; Risks and Benefits; Social Workers; Suffering;
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Gillick, Muriel R.; Fried, Terri (1995)With the passage by virtually every state legislature of healthcare proxy laws, the medical profession increasingly can expect to rely on the participation of surrogates in making decisions on behalf of incompetent patients. ...