Honor wishes of patients and their families

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 53, No. 10, December 2011, Page 520 Letters

Should advanced medical knowledge supersede a patient’s family’s wish? Recently a patient of mine was admitted to hospital for a severe illness. After about 2 to 3 weeks he had to be transferred to the intensive care unit. While in hospital several meetings were held to discuss the code status. The entire family insisted on “full code.”

One night, the patient suddenly passed away in the ICU and no code was called. The members of the family asked why there was no code. The doctor said that the patient would never make it anyway, so no code call was appropriate. 

Medically I might agree that the patient had a terminal illness with several complications, and he most likely would not survive.

However, the doctor’s judgment should never supersede the collective and unanimous wish and request of the patient’s family. As a physician one should try one’s best, and the wish of the patient and his family should definitely be honored and respected.

I welcome other physicians’ comment.
—Francis Ho, MD

Advance directives gained legal status on 1 September 2011. Written consent for (or refusal of) health care made by a patient to a health care provider is now legally binding. For more information visit https://www.bcma.org/news/advance-directives.

Francis Ho, MD,. Honor wishes of patients and their families. BCMJ, Vol. 53, No. 10, December, 2011, Page(s) 520 - Letters.

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