Can ER doctors make life choices for me?
I'm 57 years old and recently became critically ill, brought to the ER, and underwent several procedures that I always thought needed a family member or designee to agree or approve, like dyalsis, heart catheter, etc. Apparently the ER doctors went ahead and did these things to me since I was not awake and none of my family or friends were available. I guess my question is: Is this standard procedure to just go ahead or is there an Ethics Board or something similar to do the deciding? Thank you for your responses.
From Carolyn Rosenblatt, R.N., B.S.N., Attorney When you arrive at the emergency room unconscious, and there is no one to give consent to a procedure, the doctors must do what they can to save your life. It is presumed, legally, that you would want what is best for you if you were able to give consent. When you can't the doctor uses his or her own judgment in place of yours, to treat your emergency condition. Even if an ethics committee exists, there is no time to have a committee meeting when there is a pending emergency condition. It is legally appropriate and ethical for the doctor to do what is thought to be safest for you. If you have a healthcare directive (also called "power of attorney for health care or medical", your own doctor should have a copy. However, even with that, your own doctor may not be the one who first sees you in the emergency room.