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Spinal Cord Injury and a Request to Stop Treatment

Gordon, James MD, FRCPC, FAAN

CONTINUUM: Lifelong Learning in Neurology:
doi: 10.1212/01.CON.0000403801.33483.44
Ethical Perspectives

ABSTRACT: When a person who is not terminally ill requests that life-prolonging treatment be stopped, the treating physician must systematically consider all relevant diagnostic, prognostic, and psychosocial elements of that request. First, the patient's decision-making capacity must be confirmed. Next, medical facts, patient preferences, quality of life, and contextual matters surrounding the request must be evaluated and interpreted. Finally, to respect the patient fully, the treating physician must engage all clinical and paraclinical resources needed to ensure that the request is truly informed and autonomous.

Author Information

Address correspondence to Dr James Gordon, 1536 North 115th Street, Suite 330, Seattle, WA 98133,

Relationship Disclosure: Dr Gordon has performed medical record review, expert witness testimony, and litigation consultation for selected cases regarding medical negligence/malpractice.

Unlabeled Use of Products/Investigational Use Disclosure: Dr Gordon reports no disclosure.

© 2011 American Academy of Neurology