The Ethical and Economic Impact of Defaults

Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8057, USA.
Seminars in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.71). 08/2012; 33(4):382-92. DOI: 10.1055/s-0032-1322402
Source: PubMed


Medical care offered to the critically ill often occurs by default, unfolding automatically unless concerted effort is made to do otherwise. In their scope, defaults include traditional approaches to treatment and decision making, as well as policies deliberately set to promote specific health outcomes. Defaults are ethically sound to the extent that they foster patient well-being and autonomy. Unfortunately in practice, some defaults lead to ineffective, unwanted, and expensive care. This article reviews the ethical and economic impact of defaults, paying special attention to their influence on the practice of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and admission to the intensive care unit.

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