Krishna G, Raffin TA., Chest Surg Clin N Am. 8(3):723-39., 1998 Aug 01
AbstractHealth care providers should understand that the practice of good medicine includes not only diagnosing and curing diseases, but also effectively communicating with patients and families and helping terminally ill patients die a peaceful and dignified death.
Patients in America come from varied backgrounds, and it is important for physicians to consider cultural and religious issues. Physicians should combine their clinical judgment with objective outcome data to provide optimal care for patients.
Informed consent should be obtained from patients after offering a detailed plan of care that would include appropriate interventions and the consequences of no intervention. The physician should then assist the patient in making a decision that would provide the best possible future for that individual.
The four fundamental principles of biomedical ethics, namely beneficence, nonmaleficence, autonomy, and justice, should be considered when analyzing an ethical problem.
Voluntary active euthanasia, which means performing a deliberate act (e.g., administering a lethal injection) to end a patient's life, should not be performed by a physician. Withholding and withdrawing basic and advanced life support constitutes passive euthanasia.
Good communication with patients early in the clinical course whenever possible results in an ethically correct decision. A nonconfrontational, sympathetic, and compassionate approach to family members and legal surrogates facing the immediate death of their loved ones leads to the best possible outcome. It is the duty of the physician to assure the patient and the family that he or she will not abandon the patient. Effective communication is the key to solving almost all ethical dilemmas when caring for the dying thoracic patient.