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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Application of Rehabilitation Ethics to a Selected Burn Patient Population's Perspective.

BACKGROUND: Flame injury confers significant physical and psychologic stress on burn patients. Because most patients and their surrogates lack an understanding of burn injury, and these injuries preclude the meaningful exercise of patient autonomy, informed consent is a challenge for physicians. To better promote patient autonomy, this project collected patient perspectives on the proper duties of patients and physicians after severe burn injury and throughout the recovery phases. STUDY DESIGN: Ten survivors of severe burn injury were prospectively identified to represent different causes of injury, support systems, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Six persons participated (4 men, 2 women). Personal interviews with these individuals discussed their perspective and experience regarding physician and patient duties after severe burn injury as they relate to patient autonomy. RESULTS: All participants thought that informed consent was unrealistic at the time of their injury, but that this capacity developed over time as their understanding and level of functioning improved. In addition, all believed that the burn physicians' role was to do whatever was medically best for their patients in an emergency situation, but that this duty included the physician educating the patient or surrogates about what these treatments entail. CONCLUSIONS: Patient autonomy may be an unrealistic goal acutely for patients with severe burn injuries. Educational approaches to consent may facilitate patient autonomy, participation in decision making, and adherence to care plan over time. The ethical framework for this approach has been accepted in rehabilitation literature, but this is the first demonstration that relevant patient populations agree with this approach.[1]


  1. Application of Rehabilitation Ethics to a Selected Burn Patient Population's Perspective. Brewster, L.P., Bennett, B.K., Gamelli, R.L. J. Am. Coll. Surg. (2006) [Pubmed]
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