The Journal of Clinical Ethics




Ethically Optimal Interventions with Impaired Patients

Edmund G. Howe

The Journal of Clinical Ethics 25, no. 1 (Spring 2014): 3-12.



It may be difficult to imagine having a severe impairment such as quadriplegia or being dependent on a respirator. There is evidence that when careproviders make treatment decisions for patients who are in these situations, we imagine the patients are worse-off than they report they areómost patients with even very severe impairments report that they greatly value being alive. This misperception may cause us to make treatment decisions for patients with impairments that we might not make for other patients. In this article I describe how to provide better care for patients who have impairments. This includes not presupposing that the patientsí quality of life is decreased, considering with patients how outside factors may be limiting their functioning, and seeking to help offset these factors, if we can, when they exist, to avoid allowing patientsí impairments to result in their being truly "disabled."


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