Home > Hospice & End Of Life Issues > Ethical Decision Making On End of Life Issues

Ethical Decision Making On End of Life Issues

Different Strokes, child actor, Gary Coleman passed away in May 2010 after suffering a fall in his home that resulted in brain hemorrhaging, the next day, coma and his being put onto a life support system. According to multiple sources, Coleman’s Will stated his wish to not have his life prolonged if two doctors agreed that his condition was terminal. However, in the same document he also added the stipulation that if he was in a comatose state for 15 days, he wished to have life support removed at that point. As reported in articles on his passing, life-support systems were removed after only one day at the request of his ex-wife and partner.

End-of life decisions similar to this are made every day in Intensive Care Units in hospitals across the country, involve decisions that are complicated, emotionally charged, and usually involve the patients’ wishes, family, and the healthcare providers. Many times the end-of-life decision making process begins when the near death state of a patient suffering from disease, complications from stroke, heart attack, Alzheimer’s and other conditions involves the fact that life could not be sustained without life support; has been deemed terminal; and there is an absence of any prognoses for recovery. Advances in medical technology increases the ability to prolonglife and ironically, sometimes cause roadblocks in this difficult end-of-life decision-making process. New drugs, devices, and procedures become available every day for usein hospitals that increase the ability to counteract or modify theeffects of diseases or injuries caused by accidents that, in the past, were fatal.

Slowly Dying by *photonig on deviantART

With all of the enthusiasm surrounding technology and cure and often times, the need for imminent action, sometimes patients’wishes, quality of life, and consideration of the burden oftreatment to the patient compared with the benefit are overlooked.
Communication between healthcare providers and family members and consideration of the patients’ previously documented or expressed wishes are critical in making an ethical end-of-life decision. The request for a meeting of a multidisciplinary ethics committee that includes physicians, nurses, a social worker, a chaplain and the family members is sometimes used to inform and “sort out” the many factors involved in making a final decision that allows for the patients’ peaceful passing.

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About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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