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Critical Decision-Making


Here are some critical decisions you may have to face in the hospital setting:

Surgery or Other Major Procedures
– You should ask your doctor about the pros and cons of any treatment, and seek advice from others. You must decide whether the benefit of the treatment outweighs the risks.

Resuscitation Orders / Allow Natural Death – This decision is an especially difficult one, usually made when the quality of life has been so severely diminished that aggressive rescue methods are no longer in a patient's best interests.  An Allow Natural Death (AND) order directs that no attempts be made to restart the heart and lungs if they stop functioning. This means no CPR and no mechanical respirator (life support). An AND order must be written by the physician after consulting with the patient or their healthcare representative. Even with an AND order, other treatments including pain medications, oxygen, or other methods to keep the patient comfortable will still be used. A patient or their family is always free to change any treatment decision, including an AND.

Withdrawal of Life Support –
Mentally competent patients (or the legal surrogate of mentally incapacitated patients) can decide to terminate use of the respirator, feeding tubes, dialysis or any other kind of treatment necessary to keep patients alive. Such decisions should be carefully discussed with the physician so that all the implications of terminating treatment are understood.

Religious Issues – A patient’s religion can impact a variety of medical decisions, from whether or not to receive blood transfusions, to what determines the moment of death. You should talk to your doctor about your religious beliefs, and determine if there is any conflict between hospital policy and your needs