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J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2000 Jul;82-A(7):1050-1.

Paternalism.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedics, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY 10128, USA.

Abstract

J. S. is a sixty-five-year-old man who was treated at another hospital with arthroscopic debridement of an infection at the site of a right total knee replacement and was placed on long-term intravenous antibiotics. He signed out of that hospital against medical advice. One month later, he presented at our hospital with recurrent sepsis of his knee. Knee aspiration yielded frank pus with a white blood-cell count of 80,000 cells per cubic millimeter. Gram-staining demonstrated gram-positive cocci. The patient was placed on intravenous antibiotics. The patient appeared cachectic, reporting a sixty-pound (27.2-kilogram) weight loss over the past year. A metastatic workup, including a chest radiograph, an abdominal sonogram, prostate-specific antigen, a complete blood-cell count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and a purified-protein-derivative skin test, was negative; however, an occult neoplasm could not be excluded. The patient displayed episodes of confusion, disorientation, and argumentative behavior. Medical and psychiatric consults did not determine whether this behavior was due to previous substance abuse or a primary psychiatric disorder. Nevertheless, psychiatrists at our institution determined that the patient lacked decisional capacity. Attempts were made to salvage the knee replacement, and the patient underwent an extensive surgical debridement of the knee with insertion of drains. He was placed on intravenous antibiotics. The plan was for the patient to be managed with long-term oral suppressive antibiotics. After treatment, the patient was transferred to a skilled-nursing facility. Psychiatrists at the nursing facility deemed the patient to have decisional capacity, and the patient was permitted to leave the facility. He was discharged without antibiotics. Several weeks later, he presented at our hospital with a grossly purulent knee. The orthopaedic options were reviewed with the patient and his brother. Removal of the components was recommended. The patient did not want to "lose" his knee replacement, and he refused surgical intervention. We did not believe that the infection could be either controlled or eradicated with the components in place.

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PMID:
10901317
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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