If the patient and family disagree about treatment at end of life, what can the physician do to help resolve the situation?

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ZackaryBergerMDPhD (Physician (Verified) ) - 05 / 21 / 2014

This is a short question about a complicated issue which looms large in the lives of many people, both the terminally ill and those who care for them. Any disagreement can only be addressed at the root of the matter, which really requires getting into the details.

In other words: what is the patient’s prognosis – how do the health care providers expect the patient to do, and what are the expectations or beliefs of the patient and family? What are the options available? And, perhaps most important and a question often overlooked, what are the patient’s and family’s goals of care? Do they differ? Are they based on differences of principle or misunderstanding? Oftentimes clarifying these questions can bring about a meeting of the minds.

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