Volume 23, Number 1, Spring 2012
Surrogate Medical Decision Making on Behalf of a Never-Competent,
Profoundly Intellectually Disabled Patient Who Is Acutely Ill
The Journal of Clinical Ethics 23, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 71-8.
With the improvements in medical care and resultant increase in life expectancy of the intellectually disabled, it will become more common for healthcare providers to be confronted by ethical dilemmas in the care of this patient population. Many of the dilemmas will focus on what is in the best interest of patients who have never been able to express their wishes with regard to medical and end-of-life care and who should be empowered to exercise surrogate medical decision-making authority on their behalf. A case is presented that exemplifies the ethical and legal tensions surrounding surrogate medical decision making for acutely ill, never-competent, profoundly intellectually disabled patients.