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Clin Geriatr Med. 1998 Nov;14(4):813-29.

Patient values: the guide to medical decision making.

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  • 1Geriatrics Institute, St. Luke's Hospital, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18017, USA.


Physicians are increasingly challenged by issues surrounding medical decision-making for hospitalized patients. Advance directives express a patient's preferences regarding end-of-life care; when available, they should be used to guide medical treatment. Patients who lack decision-making capacity require special consideration to ensure maximal patient participation with appropriate surrogate involvement. An ethics committee consultation may be especially helpful to resolve conflicts that may arise regarding medical treatments. Physicians play a vital role in promoting earlier patient-physician discussions about end-of-life care preferences, increased completion of advance directives, and ongoing education for physicians to improve communication skills.

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