Assessment and Management of Medically Ill Patients Who Refuse Life-Prolonging Treatments: Two Case Reports and Proposed Guidelines
Journal of Palliative Care. 1998 Spring; 14(1): 18-24.
Patients who have chosen to have treatment withdrawn because of debilitating conditions pose a special problem for palliative care. We report on two such patients: patient 1 refused amputation of a gangrenous leg and patient 2 refused food and hydration after a series of strokes. The management of these patients through the dying process is discussed and guidelines are suggested. The criteria for competency include both a general cognitive and psychiatric assessment as well as a specific evaluation of the patient's ability to make the treatment withdrawal decision. Treatable symptoms which impair the patient's quality of life and have an impact on the decision should be corrected. If a proxy decides to withdraw therapy in an incompetent patient, this decision should accord with the patient's known wishes and values as far as possible. The beneficence of the decision may be assessed according to the disease process, degree of suffering, and risks of accepting treatment. The complexity of these cases calls for a multidisciplinary approach, and the palliative care team should work in collaboration with the primary care treatment team.
Aged; Allowing to Die; Artificial Feeding; Beneficence; Case Studies; Chronically Ill; Communication; Competence; Comprehension; Disease; Evaluation; Food; Guidelines; Life; Palliative Care; Patient Care; Patient Care Team; Patients; Proxy; Quality of Life; Right to Die; Suffering; Surgery; Terminal Care; Treatment Refusal; Values;
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