Reframing Medical Appropriateness: A Case Study Concerning the Use of Life-Sustaining Technologies for a Patient With Profoundly Diminished Quality of Life
- Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 7, Number 1, Spring 2017
- pp. 87-95
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This case study considers the clinical ethics issues of medical appropriateness and quality of life for patients who are critically ill. The case involves a terminally ill cancer patient with a profoundly diminished quality of life and an extremely poor prognosis; his spouse desires to bring him home, where she will arrange to keep him alive for as long as possible via life-sustaining interventions. The analysis engages with the complicated notion of medical appropriateness, both in general and as it pertains to life-sustaining interventions in a critical care setting, and considers the ethical implications of the various ways in which one might understand this concept. It also addresses the significance of quality-of-life determinations, emphasizing the role of individualized values in determining the importance of quality of life for clinical decision-making. The discussion concludes with a description of the two strategies employed by the ethics team in helping to alleviate the medical team’s concerns about this case.