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May 27, 1992

Ethics on Call: A Medical Ethicist Shows How to Take Charge of Life-and-Death Choices

Author Affiliations

Hennepin County Medical Center Minneapolis, Minn

JAMA. 1992;267(20):2819. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480200127041

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


When families and patients want or need to learn about the bioethics of lifeand-death decisions in American hospitals, Ethics on Call is the book to refer them to. Nancy Dubler is a lawyer and nationally recognized expert in health law, bioethics, and geriatric care from the Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

The book begins with a general orientation to hospital wards and services. Potential players are identified: ethicists, ethics committees, hospital lawyers, utilization review, social workers, interloping outside advocates, and media. Advice is given on how to recruit or detect the involvement of such parties. There are practical discussions of the basics of life-and-death decisions: informed consent, decision making, definitions of death, the right to take risks, competence, and advance treatment planning. The care of older persons, newborns, children, and teens is separately treated. There is an up-to-date discussion of the anguishing