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  • Online Education
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When Clinicians Override Advance Directives: Ethical and Legal Considerations (Webinar T6080) Tue, Sep 10, 2019 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM When Clinicians Override Advance Directives: Ethical and Legal Considerations (T6080)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019 / 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. EDT

The price for the webinar is $195 per phone line.


John Banja, PhD

Professor and Medical Ethicist

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

Course Curriculum:

Health professionals have been known to override patients’ advance directives. The most ethically problematic instances involve overriding a directive that explicitly forbids the administration of some life-prolonging treatment like resuscitation or intubation with artificial ventilation. Sometimes clinicians might be unaware of the directive, but in other instances, the override is done knowingly and intentionally with clinicians later pleading that it was done “in the patient’s best interests.” This presentation surveys a twenty-year period extending back to 1997 when ethicists began to question the legitimacy of overriding advance directives despite clinicians believing they had compelling reasons to do so. A legal and ethical analysis of advance directive overrides is provided as no court to date has awarded damages to plaintiffs who alleged their loved one suffered “wrongful life” following a successful life-prolonging intervention. A hypothetical scenario is discussed wherein a patient’s DNR status is overridden because her cardiac arrest was caused by error whose effects might be reversible. The presentation concludes with a strategy for mitigating certain vagaries associated with overriding advance directives, but suggests that until courts provide clinicians with clear guidelines and protections, violations of patients’ advance directives are likely to continue.

If you are registering from an out-of-state hospital association, please contact Bess Zappa at 770-249-4542.