Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Ethics Man

Ethics of emergency bedside medicine

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 29 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l427
  1. Daniel Sokol, medical ethicist and barrister
  1. 12 King’s Bench Walk, London
  1. daniel.sokol{at}
    Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielSokol9

Establishing common interests helps to avoid litigation

It came out of the blue. A former client contacted me with news of her sick father, who was in his late 70s. He had been admitted to hospital with severe pneumococcal necrotising pneumonia and septic shock, acute kidney injury, and respiratory failure. Two months on he was still in the critical care unit on a ventilator.

The family members were unhappy with the medical team’s management plan, which was to continue aggressive treatment unless he suffered significant deterioration. In that case, there would be no escalation in support. The family wanted everything done unless the situation wasn’t survivable.

I went to the bedside to see the patient. He could not speak. I asked him how he was and he gave a thumbs up. I asked him if he …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription