The Patient Said He Would Rather Die: Should You Let Him?

Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery

San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 18-356

6 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2018 Last revised: 24 Sep 2018

Dov Fox

University of San Diego: School of Law

Joseph S. Coselli

Houston Methodist Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, Dept. of Surgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery: Texas Heart Institute

Robert M. Sade

Medical University of South Carolina - College of Medicine

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

It is a well-established canon of law in the United States that every person has the right to determine what happens to his own body, including refusal of life-sustaining treatment. Surgeons often find it difficult to accept prima facie a patient’s refusal of a life-saving operation that the surgeon knows can be done with a reasonable degree of success. Fortunately, we do not face that problem very often, but when we do, we frequently struggle with how to handle the situation, because usually no simple answers are evident. Just such a fictional case — a rupturing aortic aneurysm — was presented for debate at the 98th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, pitting a professor of law with expertise in bioethics against a highly experienced cardiothoracic surgeon with a distinctly contrary view.

Keywords: Ethics, Health policy, Professionalism, Informed consent

JEL Classification: K10, K32

Suggested Citation

Fox, Dov and Coselli, Joseph S. and Sade, Robert M., The Patient Said He Would Rather Die: Should You Let Him? (2018). Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery; San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 18-356. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3227017

Dov Fox (Contact Author)

University of San Diego: School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110
United States
(619) 260-4600 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.sandiego.edu/law/news/news_releases/newslist.php?_focus=44957

Joseph S. Coselli

Houston Methodist Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, Dept. of Surgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery: Texas Heart Institute

6621 Fannin St
Houston, TX 77030
United States

HOME PAGE: https://www.bcm.edu/people/view/joseph-coselli-m-d-facs/b188d97c-ffed-11e2-be68-080027880ca6

Robert M. Sade

Medical University of South Carolina - College of Medicine ( email )

171 Ashley Avenue
Charleston, SC 29425
United States
843-876-4845 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/facultydirectory/Sade-Robert

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