Ethical issues in geriatrics: a guide for clinicians.

Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn 55905, USA.
Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Impact Factor: 5.79). 05/2004; 79(4):554-62. DOI: 10.4065/79.4.554
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Because of demographic trends, it is reasonable to expect that clinicians will care for an increasing number of elderly persons with challenging medical and psychosocial problems. These problems and issues, in turn, may lead to daunting ethical dilemmas. Therefore, clinicians should be familiar with ethical dilemmas commonly encountered when caring for elderly patients. We review some of these dilemmas, including ensuring informed consent and confidentiality, determining decision-making capacity, promoting advance care planning and the use of advance directives, surrogate decision making, withdrawing and withholding interventions, using cardiopulmonary resuscitation and do-not-resuscitate orders, responding to requests for interventions, allocating health care resources, and recommending nursing home care. Ethical dilemmas may arise because of poor patient-clinician communication; therefore, we provide practical tips for effective communication. Nevertheless, even in the best circumstances, ethical dilemmas occur. We describe a case-based approach to ethical dilemmas used by the Mayo Clinic Ethics Consultation Service, which begins with a review of the medical indications, patient preferences, quality of life, and contextual features of a given case. This approach enables clinicians to identify and analyze the relevant facts of a case, define the ethical problem, and suggest a solution.

1 Bookmark
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Even in a global perspective, societies are getting older. We think that diagnostic lung imaging of older patients requires special knowledge. Imaging strategies have to be adjusted to the needs of frail patients, for example, immobility, impossibility for long breath holds, renal insufficiency, or poor peripheral venous access. Beside conventional radiography, modern multislice computed tomography is the method of choice in lung imaging. It is especially important to separate the process of ageing from the disease itself. Pathologies with a special relevance for the elderly patient are discussed in detail: pneumonia, aspiration pneumonia, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the problem of overlapping heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary drug toxicity, incidental pulmonary embolism pulmonary nodules, and thoracic trauma.
    Radiology research and practice. 01/2013; 2013:584793.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: IMPORTANCE Little is known about patients who undergo cardiovascular implantable electronic device deactivation. OBJECTIVE To describe features and outcomes of patients who underwent cardiovascular implantable electronic device deactivation. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Retrospective review of medical records of 150 patients at a tertiary academic medical center (Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota). EXPOSURE Cardiovascular implantable electronic device deactivation. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Demographic and clinical data and information regarding advance directives, ethics consultations, palliative medicine consultations, and cardiovascular implantable electronic device deactivations. RESULTS Of the 150 patients (median age, 79 years; 67% were male), 149 (99%) had poor or terminal prognoses. Overall, 118 patients (79%) underwent deactivation of tachycardia therapies only, and 32 (21%) underwent deactivation of bradycardia therapies with or without tachycardia therapies (6 patients [4%] were pacemaker-dependent). Half of the deactivation requests (51%) were made by surrogates. A majority of deactivations (55%) were carried out by nurses. Although 85 patients (57%) had advance directives, only 1 mentioned the device in the directive. Ethics consultations occurred in 3 patients (2%) and palliative medicine consultations in 64 (43%). The proportions of patients who died within 1 month of device deactivation were similar for those who underwent deactivation of tachycardia therapies only and those who underwent deactivation of bradycardia therapies with or without tachycardia therapies (85% vs 94%; P = .37). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Most requests for cardiovascular implantable electronic device deactivation were for implantable cardioverter-defibrillator-delivered tachycardia therapies only. Many of these requests were made by surrogates. Advance directives executed by patients with these devices rarely addressed device management. Regardless of device therapy, most patients died shortly after device deactivation. Hence, a device deactivation decision may reflect the seriousness of a given patient's underlying illness. Patients with devices should engage in advance care planning to ensure that future care is consistent with their preferences.
    JAMA Internal Medicine 11/2013; 174(1):80-5.. · 10.58 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: hov r., hedelin b. & athlin e. (2012) Nursing care for patients on the edge of life in nursing homes: obstacles are overshadowing opportunities. International Journal of Older People Nursing doi: 10.1111/j.1748-3743.2011.00306.x Aim.  The aim was to describe nurses' conceptions of good nursing care, and how this could be carried out for patients on the edge of life in nursing homes. Background.  Patients in nursing homes have comprehensive needs for nursing care and medical treatment. Most patients benefit from the treatment, but some are 'on the edge of life'-in a borderland between living and dying with an unpredictable outcome, and questions are sometimes raised whether to withhold/withdraw curative treatment. Design.  In order to discover variations in the nurses' understandings a phenomenographic approach was chosen. Phenomenography is concerned with qualitatively different ways of conceiving a phenomenon. Methods.  Fourteen nurses from two nursing homes were individually interviewed twice. A phenomenographic analysis was used. Results.  The outcome-space included two main categories. The first, 'good nursing care is to meet patients' needs for dignity,' included three description-categories: needs for 'preparedness', 'human relationship' and 'bodily comfort and safety'. The second, 'opportunities were overshadowed by obstacles' in carrying out nursing care encompassed three description-categories: 'organisational factors,''relational factors' and 'personal factors'. Conclusions.  This study shows nurses' conceptions of the importance of good nursing care for comforting patients on the edge of life. Implications for practice.  Several obstacles related to resources, communication, cooperation and nurses' professional strength and power need to be overcome if good nursing care can be performed.
    International Journal of Older People Nursing 02/2012;

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 19, 2014