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Ethics and the law involving the elderly 

Ethics and the law involving the elderly
Chapter:
Ethics and the law involving the elderly
Author(s):

Chris Dodds

, Chandra M. Kumar

, and Frédérique Servin

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198735571.003.0015
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date: 12 November 2019

The role of ethics in the care of the elderly is discussed, and some of the aspects of importance to anaesthesia are reviewed. Ethical principles are commonly viewed as either consequential, where the risk/benefit balance between necessary harm (surgery) provides improved quality of life, or deontological, where it is simply the action that is judged and not the outcome. The lack of individualized outcome data is identified as a major issue for the consequential process. Consent for surgery (and anaesthesia) is described in the context of the UK, but it is applicable worldwide. The validity of informed consent is reviewed against the criteria of competence, lack of duress, and appropriately provided information. The capacity to give consent and the use of legal alternatives such as health attorneys is detailed. Finally, the debate on excellent palliative care rather than assisted death is reviewed.

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