Most physicians believe they do more good than harm, and these duties of helping and not harming the patient are rooted in the Hippocratic oath, the good Samaritan tradition, and the Order of the Knight Hospitallers founded in the 11th century to care for pilgrims and those wounded in the Crusades.1 In recent times the simple principles of beneficence and non-maleficence have been augmented and sometimes challenged by a rising awareness of patient/consumer rights, and the public expectation of greater involvement in medical, social and scientific affairs which affect them. In a publicly funded healthcare system in which rationing (explicit or otherwise) is inevitable, the additional concepts of utility and distributive justice can easily come into conflict with the individual’s right to autonomy. Possible treatment options for end stage lung disease include transplantation and long term invasive ventilation which are challenging in resource terms. Other interventions such as pulmonary rehabilitation and palliative care are relatively low cost but not uniformly accessible.
- decision making
- end stage lung disease
- mechanical ventilation
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- neuromuscular disease
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