Ethical Care at the End of Life
Latimer, Elizabeth J.
Canadian Medical Association Journal. 1998 Jun 30; 158(13): 1741-1747.
In treating dying patients, who by virtue of their physical and emotional situation are frail and vulnerable, physicians must meet a high standard of professional, ethical care. Such a standard is based upon a philosophy of care that recognizes the patients' inherent worth as human beings and their uniqueness as individuals. The ethical and virtuous physician will practice in accordance with the principles of biomedical ethics that form the foundations of thought and treatment approaches in this area and will seek to do the best for the patient and the family. "Doing the best" includes respecting autonomy through gentle truth-telling, helping the patient and family to set treatment goals, and providing for symptom control, continuing attentive care and accompaniment throughout the course of the illness. Total care includes physical, emotional and spiritual aspects, is sensitive to cultural values and is best provided by an interdisciplinary team. Practices of symptom control in routine care and in crisis situations, as well as the cessation and non-initiation of treatment, will have as their goals the relief and comfort of the patient. The ethical physician will not act with the intention of bringing about the death of the patient, whether by ordering medication in excess of that required for symptom control, administering a lethal injection or any other means.
Allowing to Die; Autonomy; Beneficence; Case Studies; Communication; Compassion; Cultural Pluralism; Consent; Death; Decision Making; Disclosure; Double Effect; Drugs; Dying Patients; Ethics; Family Relationship; Goals; Informed Consent; Intention; Interprofessional Relations; Illness; Life; Medical Records; Pain; Palliative Care; Patient Care; Patient Care Team; Patients; Philosophy; Physician's Role; Physicians; Professional Family Relationship; Professional Patient Relationship; Prognosis; Prolongation of Life; Psychological Stress; Quality of Life; Records; Resuscitation; Resuscitation Orders; Suffering; Terminal Care; Terminally Ill; Trust; Truth Disclosure; Values;
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