A transcultural, preventive ethics approach to critical-care medicine: Restoring the critical care physician's power and authority
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 23 (6):628 – 642 (1998)
This article comments on the treatment of critical-care ethics in four preceding articles about critical-care medicine and its ethical challenges in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, and the Philippines. These articles show how cultural values can be in both synchrony and conflict in generating these ethical challenges and in the constraints that they place on the response of critical-care ethics to them. To prevent ethical conflict in critical care the author proposes a two-step approach to the ethical jus tification of critical-care management: (1) the decision to resuscitate and initiate critical-care management, which is based on the obligation to prevent imminent mortality without permanent loss of consciousness; and (2) the decision to continue critical-care management, which is based on the obligation both to prevent imminent death without permanent loss of consciousness and to avoid unnecessary, significant iatrogenic costs to the patient and psychosocial costs to the family when the reduction of morta lity risk is marginal. Physicians and hospitals should restore the critical-care physician's authority and power - against prevailing cultural values, if necessary - to control when critical-care intervention is offered, when it is recommended to continue, and when it is recommended to be discontinued and the patient allowed to die.
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