Ethical framework for end of life decisions in intensive care in the UK

Kinsella, J. and Booth, M. G. (2007) Ethical framework for end of life decisions in intensive care in the UK. Journal of the National Institute of Public Health, 56(4), pp. 387-392.

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In the UK there has been a move away from a paternalistic model of medicine. A clearer ethical framework has now evolved and it is accepted that four main ethical principles, such as autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and justice in medical practice. There is no distinction ethically between withholding and withdrawing a mode of therapy. When a therapy is not considered to offer any benefit there is no obligation to institute it. On the other hand, there is an obligation to maximise comfort and minimise pain or distress of patients even when the side effects may actually appear to precipitate the patient’s death(Principle of Double Effect). The General Medical Council, the British Medical Association Ethics Committee, as well as the various Royal Colleges provide guidance on healthcare related ethical issues, but do not provide advice on individual cases. Although, ethics committees in UK hospitals are mainly Research Ethics Committees, but gradually appearing those support on clinical ethics throughout the UK. For the patients who lack the ability to give consent, the various treatment options are discussed with the family and treatment is permitted by legislation in Scotland(Adults with Incapacity Act 2000). We describe specific aspects of end of life decisions in intensive care.

Item Type:Articles (Other)
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kinsella, Professor John and Booth, Dr Malcolm
Authors: Kinsella, J., and Booth, M. G.
Subjects:R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Journal Name:Journal of the National Institute of Public Health
Publisher:Kokuritsu Hoken Iryou Kagakuin,National Institute of Public Health

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