During goals of care conversations, palliative care clinicians help patients and families determine priorities of care and align medical care with those priorities. The style and methods of communicating with families and negotiating a care plan can range from paternalistic to entirely patient driven. In this paper, we describe a case in which the palliative care clinician approached decision-making using a paradigm that is intuitive to many clinicians and which seems conceptually sound, but which has not been fully explored in the bioethics literature. This paradigm, termed maternalism, allows the clinician to direct decision-making within a relationship such that best interests and autonomy are mutually reinforced, thus reflecting relational autonomy as opposed to individual autonomy. We explore whether this method is appropriate in this case and explain how it captures significant ethical features of the case that might be missed by other approaches.
Shared Decision-Making, Palliative Care, End of Life, Paternalism, Relational Autonomy