Ramon S. Dunkin, MD
Potential Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.
Dunkin R.; The Effect on Surrogates of Making Treatment Decisions for Others. Ann Intern Med. 2011;155:206. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-155-3-201108020-00023
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2011;155(3):206.
TO THE EDITOR:
The article by Wendler and Rid (1) and the 11 January 2011 FRONTLINE documentary “Facing Death” on PBS prompted the following comments on the physician's role in medical decision making.
The article, and references 7 to 10 that cited how decisions were made by surrogates, mentioned discussions with the health care staff but did not indicate what specific information the physicians provided. “Facing Death” presented several end-of-life situations in which family members were asked to decide about further therapy, with or without the patient's input, after discussion of the prognosis and treatment options with the health care staff. None of the scenarios included the physician's recommendation as to what he believed was the best course of action, based on knowledge of the patient's illness, probable prognosis, any advance directive, and the expressed feelings of family members.
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