An elderly person may not want aggressive treatment like intensive care, use of ventilators, or feeding tubes, said Dr. Walter E. Limehouse of the Medical University of South Carolina.
When patients arriving in the emergency room lack the ability to make decisions, U.S. emergency physicians are increasingly asking whether they have an advance directive or treatment plan, Dr. Limehouse told Reuters Health by email.
“ICU admission policies and process are different between countries,” Dr. Le Guen said. “In France, the final decision is always under the intensivist’s responsibility, normally after a global evaluation taking into account patient wishes.”
A history of dementia does not always mean a patient can’t express an opinion, Dr. Le Guen said.
“In my opinion, patients suffering from dementia should always be asked, and physicians should always try to receive consent when a medical decision has to be made for these patients, even if a full understanding seems illusory,” he said.