The Ethics of Decision Making for the Critically Ill Elderly

The ethics of decision making for the critically ill elderly is an area of concern for all those involved in the decision-making process. The number of participants involved in decision making around end-of-life issues may be many: treatment and care decisions often bring together not only the patient and the physician, but the family, an extended medical care team, and impartial members of a hospital or institutional ethics committee. In addition, treatment and care decisions made at the end of life occur in a variety of settings, not just the acute care hospital. Elderly patients who are critically ill, or in the final days or weeks of life, are found in intensive care or medical units of hospitals, in hospital and nursing home based hospice programs, in long-term care settings such as skilled nursing facilities, or at home, where they are tended by family caregivers. Differences in patterns of decision making regarding the care and treatment of critically ill older adults can be found across these settings, and decisions often vary according to the roles of the participants
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DOI 10.1017/S0963180100005806
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