Refusal of Life-Saving Therapy

Catherine A. Marco, Arthur R. Derse

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Refusal of life-saving therapy can be a challenging situation in the practice of emergency medicine. Emergency physicians recognize informed consent and informed refusal of care as basic rights of patients, and honor patient-centered wishes of adults with decisional capacity. In all cases of refusal of care, decisional capacity should be evaluated, and if the patient is deemed to have decisional capacity, the physician should communicate with them regarding the proposed interventions, risks, benefits, and alternatives, and the patient's goals and values. When a patient refuses medical treatment, care should specifically be taken to ensure that the patient understands the consequences, and that the physician expresses a willingness to treat the patient, including providing reasonable alternative treatments, as well as providing appropriate follow-up recommendations. The voluntary decision of the patient regarding medical care and important aspects of the discussion should be documented in the medical record.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEthical Problems in Emergency Medicine
Subtitle of host publicationA Discussion-Based Review
PublisherJohn Wiley and Sons
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9780470673478
StatePublished - Jun 20 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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