Ethics, choices, and decisions in acute medicine: a national survey of Norwegian physicians' attitudes

Hansen TW, Janvier A, Aasland O, Førde R. Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2013; 14(2):e63-9.

Online Clinical Investigations, published in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, February 2013. Doi: 10.1097/PCC.0b013e31826e73f1

Article in English.

Abstract on Pubmed:
Objective: To study the attitudes of Norwegian physicians to resuscitation of hypothetical patients all at risk of neurological sequelae.Design: Mail-based survey. Setting: A cohort of Norwegian physicians who are representative of the national physician corps. Interventions: A total of 1650 Norwegian physicians (7% of practicing physicians in Norway) received a written questionnaire describing six scenarios of patients all in need of emergency life-saving intervention. Respondents were asked whether they would resuscitate; whether such resuscitation was in the patient’s best interest; whether a surrogate’s refusal of intervention would be accepted; and whether they would have wanted resuscitation if the patient were their own child, their spouse, or themselves. Positive or negative responses on a four-point Likert scale were recorded. Measurements and Main Results: A total of 1,069 respondents (response rate, 65%). Physicians responding to these scenarios were a) more inclined to resuscitate an anonymous patient than if the patient were themselves or their kin; b) willing to resuscitate although they do not consider this intervention to be in the patient’s best interest; c) willing to refrain from resuscitation on surrogate request in spite of a reasonably good prognosis; d) willing to accept surrogate’s refusal of resuscitation in spite of a stated opinion that such intervention would be in the patient’s best interest; and e) less willing to resuscitate newborn infants compared with older children and adults (except the aged) with similar prognoses. Conclusion: There appear to be differences in medical thinking about best interest, surrogate decision making, and the relative value of lives as far as these are applied to acute, life-saving treatment.

Contact us for more information.