Respect and Dignity: A Conceptual Model for Patients in the Intensive Care Unit

Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, vol. 5.1A, pp. 5A-14A

U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-22

11 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2015 Last revised: 30 Aug 2015

See all articles by Leslie Meltzer Henry

Leslie Meltzer Henry

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law; Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Cynda Rushton

Johns Hopkins University - Berman Institute of Bioethics

Mary Beach

Johns Hopkins University - Berman Institute of Bioethics

Ruth Faden

Johns Hopkins University - Berman Institute of Bioethics

Date Written: August 27, 2015

Abstract

Although the concept of dignity is commonly invoked in clinical care, there is not widespread agreement — in either the academic literature or in everyday clinical conversations — about what dignity means. Without a framework for understanding dignity, it is difficult to determine what threatens patients’ dignity and, conversely, how to honor commitments to protect and promote it. This article aims to change that by offering the first conceptual model of dignity for patients in the intensive care unit. The conceptual model we present is based on the notion that there are three sources of patients’ dignity — their shared humanity, personal narratives, and autonomy — each of which independently warrants respect. The article describes each source of dignity and draws on examples to illustrate how clinician attitudes, actions, and behaviors can either contribute to, or detract from, expressions of respect for patient dignity.

Keywords: autonomy, dignity, intensive care unit, patient, respect

Suggested Citation

Henry, Leslie Meltzer and Rushton, Cynda and Beach, Mary and Faden, Ruth, Respect and Dignity: A Conceptual Model for Patients in the Intensive Care Unit (August 27, 2015). Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, vol. 5.1A, pp. 5A-14A; U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2652217

Leslie Meltzer Henry (Contact Author)

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States
410-706-4480 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.umaryland.edu/faculty/profiles/faculty.html?facultynum=616

Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics ( email )

United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.bioethicsinstitute.org/people/leslie-meltzer-henry

Cynda Rushton

Johns Hopkins University - Berman Institute of Bioethics ( email )

United States

Mary Beach

Johns Hopkins University - Berman Institute of Bioethics ( email )

United States

Ruth Faden

Johns Hopkins University - Berman Institute of Bioethics ( email )

United States

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