Ethical issues in palliative care

Richard A. Demme, Eric A. Singer, Jane Greenlaw, Timothy E. Quill

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


It is not unusual for perioperative health care providers to confront ethical concerns; the role of the anesthesiologist is particularly important. Obtaining patient consent is necessary for each surgical procedure, so clear understanding of the consent process is essential. A patient who has declined resuscitative measures may still request a palliative operation, and wishes for a DNR order must be addressed. The anesthesiologist may be the team member best-equipped and most able to deliver high doses of sedatives and potent pain analgesia. An appreciation of the rule of double effect may be instrumental for those providing relief of suffering. At some point, withdrawal of technologic support may be requested by the patient or the surrogate. In addition, the family may wish to offer a dying patient's organs to benefit others. In these instances, among others, the anesthesiologist may play a key role in providing good palliative care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-144
Number of pages16
JournalAnesthesiology Clinics of North America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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