Re-examine the approach to treatment decisions of the frail elderly in hospitals

Frail elderly persons are a growing section of emergency and hospital care, and the traditional rules around consent and care may not be meeting this group's needs.

In this guest editorial in this week's issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Dr. Kenneth Rockwood writes that physicians need to re-examine how to respect the autonomy and special needs of the frail elderly, when determining treatment.

He does not feel it is a simple matter of determining competency to give consent. He feels physicians in hospitals need to be held accountable.

Many frail elderly people are competent when they are well and in a familiar environment. However, their capacity for understanding can be quickly compromised when they fall ill and come to hospital. Dr. Rockwood suggests ways to help the frail elderly remain autonomous, and help the physician and hospital give care in the best interests of the elderly.

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p. 1689 Capacity, population aging and professionalism
-- K. Rockwood

http://www.cmaj.ca/pressrelease/pg1689.pdf

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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