The success of science and medical technology has led to medical brinkmanship, pushing aggressive treatment as far as it can go. But medicine lacks the precision necessary for such brinkmanship to succeed, and the resulting cycle of expectation and disappointment in technology has, in part, led to an increasing acceptance of euthanasia and assisted suicide, linked closely with advocacy for patient autonomy. At the opposite extreme lies medical vitalism, which refers to attempts to preserve the patient's life in and of itself without any significant hope for recovery.
The author comments on the consensus statement from the point of view of an ethics consultant in Germany. Since many hospitals in Germany are under considerable competitive pressure, mission statements are becoming more and more important in order to draw a distinction between the different hospital types and to convey the meaning of the corporate identity both internally and externally. The Consensus Statement, which provides basic orientation without going into too much detail, can be a helpful initial document.
This article discusses the unexpectedly firm stance professed by John Paul II on the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration to patients who are in a persistent vegetative state, and it implications on previously held standards of judging medical treatments. The traditional ordinary/extraordinary care distinction is assessed in light of complexities of the recent allocution as well as its impact on Catholic individuals and in Catholic health care facilities.
This essay reviews the Roman Catholic moral tradition surrounding treatments at the end of life together with the challenges presented to that tradition by the Texas Advance Directives Act. The impact on Catholic health care facilities and physicians, and the way in which the moral tradition should be applied under this statute, particularly with reference to the provision dealing with conflicts over end-of-life treatments, will be critically assessed.
The author describes an alternative approach that care-providers may want to consider when caring for patients who request interventions that careproviders see as futile. This approach is based, in part, on findings of recent neuroimaging research. The author also provides several examples of seemingly justifiable "paternalistic omissions," taken from articles in this issue of The Journal of Clinical Ethics (JCE).
How might clinicians best try to retain the trust of patients and family members after clinicians oppose giving a treatment? If clinicians can maintain the trust of patients and families in these situations, this may soften what may be the greatest possible loss--the death of a loved one. I discuss what clinicians seeking to retain trust should not do--namely impose their values and reason wrongly--and introduce strategies that clinicians may use to reduce both. I present five principles that clinicians can follow to try to retain trust, with examples that illustrate each.
The hospice philosophy was founded on a mission to provide comprehensive and holistic services to individuals at the end of life. Hospice interdisciplinary teams work together to offer therapies such as spiritual services, comfort care, and massage therapy to meet patients' physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs. Although the hospice philosophy is guided toward patient-centered care, limited research has examined how patients understand holistic care services.