Consent to Terminate Care

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            The medical profession in any aspect is presented with many ethical dilemmas and implications.  Patients now have a better understanding of their diagnoses and treatment plans which allow for future planning with regards to terminal situations.  Some patients choose to obtain an order prohibiting any health care professional from administering any life sustaining procedure or support.   There are some patients who mandate through a legally devised order that life support and any life sustaining method is to be performed.  The latter creates much concern and ethical implications for the treating medical staff.

            Doctors and nurses uphold specific ethical standards pertaining to patient care.  When an advanced medical directive is implemented, these treating professionals are bound to uphold the patient’s wishes during a time when they are medically unable to do so.  While the medical professionals may be empathetic to the families distraught by the condition of their loved one, they have a duty to comply with the patient’s wishes is ethically the right decision.  In instances whereby the patient has been determined to be brain dead, the family may seek a legal proviso to discontinue any life sustaining devices (Wachter, Goldman, & Hollander, 2005).  Until such a time, nurses and doctors are bound by the advanced directive order.

            Patients are encouraged to discuss with their treating physicians what they expect or what their true intentions and wishes would be.  This should be done before obtaining an advanced medical directive instead of simply asking the receptionist to include it in the medical file.  Patients could provide clauses to the advanced medical directive which would permit a treating physician to discontinue life support in instances where there is irrecoverable damage to the brain or other organs.  When medical professionals work with their patients, ethical dilemmas and implications can be avoided altogether.


Wachter, R., Goldman, L., & Hollander, H.  (2005).  Hospital medicine (2nd ed.).  New York,    NY:  Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins.


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