Avoiding Overtreatment at the End of Life: Physician-Patient Communication and Truly Informed Consent

65 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2016 Last revised: 30 Aug 2016

See all articles by Barbara A. Noah

Barbara A. Noah

Western New England University School of Law

Neal Feigenson

Quinnipiac University - School of Law

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

This Article considers how best to ensure that patients have the tools to make informed choices about their care as they near death. Informed decision making can help reduce excessive end-of-life care and unnecessary suffering, and result in care that aligns with patients’ well-considered values and preferences. The many factors that contribute to dying patients receiving too much therapy and life-prolonging care include: the culture of denial of death, physicians’ professional culture and attitudes toward treatment, physicians’ fear of liability, physicians’ avoidance of discussions about prognosis, and the impact of payment incentives that encourage overutilization of medical technologies.

Under the doctrine of informed consent, physicians have an ethical and legal obligation to provide patients with timely and accurate information that will enable patients to make informed decisions about end-of-life care. However, compliance with the informed consent law does not ensure that patients’ decisions are truly informed. The Authors provide several tools and techniques available to help physicians and patients achieve the goal of truly informed decision making, including training to promote the practice of shared decision making and the use of decision aids.

Keywords: end of life, advance directives, health care proxies, terminal care

Suggested Citation

Noah, Barbara A. and Feigenson, Neal, Avoiding Overtreatment at the End of Life: Physician-Patient Communication and Truly Informed Consent (2016). Pace Law Review, Vol. 36, p. 737, 2016; Western New England University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16-6. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2822057

Barbara A. Noah (Contact Author)

Western New England University School of Law ( email )

1215 Wilbraham Road
Springfield, MA 01119
United States
413-782-1432 (Phone)

Neal Feigenson

Quinnipiac University - School of Law ( email )

275 Mt. Carmel Ave.
Hamden, CT 06518
United States

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