Physicians are trained to offer the best care to patients, and therefore, they have the mandate to choose the treatment that is in the patient’s best interest. However, maintaining a patient’s independence is traditionally the highest priority in bioethics. Although the emphasis is meant to prevent patients from being coerced by clinicians, it fails to consider that patients are part of a family and often wish to consider their family members’ opinions when making decisions. Listening to an uneasy patient and following their demands may lead to the wrong intervention program, but it would give the patient peace, which may impact positively on their health (Bülow et al., 2012). Conversely, forcing patients to follow an expert’s opinion may make patient distressed and thus affect how they respond to treatment. Medical practitioners should, therefore, maintain a balance between respecting the patient autonomy and acting in his or her best interest. They are advised to cultivate relationships with their patients that would enable them to help the patients see things from the professional’s perspective while allowing them to make their own decision.
Physicians can optimize the value of the caregiver role of their loved ones by providing family caregiver guides which help caregivers to understand the healthcare landscape and assess the conditions of their loved ones. Nurses can also inform and facilitate the connection between caregivers and agencies that assist caregivers like the Area Agencies on Aging who help enhance the quality of life of both the patient and the caregiver (Reinhard et al., 2008). More assistance to caregivers could be through medication synchronization tools to assist patients in following instructions and taking medication appropriately and thus reduce the frequency of visits of caregivers. Nurses can also ensure home delivery services for medical supplies to help caregivers access the necessary products with ease.
Bülow, H. H., Sprung, C. L., Baras, M., Carmel, S., Svantesson, M., Benbenishty, J., … & Nalos, D. (2012). Are religion and religiosity important to end-of-life decisions and patient autonomy in the ICU? The Ethicatt study. Intensive care medicine, 38(7), 1126-1133.Reinhard, S. C., Given, B., Petlick, N. H., & Bemis, A. (2008). Supporting family caregivers in providing care. In-Patient safety and quality: An evidence-based handbook for nurses. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US).
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