Definitely, Maybe: Helping Patients Make Decisions about Surgery When Prognosis Is Uncertain

Journal of Clinical Ethics 34 (2):169-174 (2023)
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Abstract

The sudden onset of severe traumatic brain injury (sTBI) is an event suffered by millions of individuals each year. Regardless of this frequency in occurrence, accurate prognostication remains difficult to achieve among physicians. There are many variables that affect this prognosis. Physicians are expected to assess the clinical indications of the brain injury while considering other factors such as patient quality of life, patient preferences, and environmental context. However, this lack of certainty in prognosis can ultimately affect treatment recommendations and prompt clinical ethical issues at the bedside, as it leaves room for physician bias and interpretation. In this article, we introduce data on neurosurgeon values that may shed light on the process physicians and patients involved in sTBI undergo. In doing so, we highlight the many nuances in decision-making for patients suffering from sTBI and discuss potential solutions to better patient-physician or surrogate-physician interactions.

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