The delivery of good medical care often involves professionals from various disciplines working together. Interdisciplinary health care teams can be especially valuable in managing patients with complex medical and social needs, such as older persons in hospital, community, or home settings. Such teams, however, can also complicate or even create problems because of their diverse views and responsibilities. This book is designed to teach effective and responsible group decision making to clinicians working in teams to treat older patients. The editors use the case study method to present ethical dilemmas that team members encounter in the management of geriatric patients. Patients with multiple chronic conditions often require the care of more than one medical specialist, and in the introductory chapters the editors suggest ways to resolve conflicts among patients, health care professionals, and the institutions that support them, including hospitals, HMOs, insurance companies and the government. The book is then divided into four sections, each dealing with one angle of the team-care picture.
The first section treats the diverse ethical imperatives of various professionals, conflicts among disciplinary approaches, and and varying attitudes toward end-of-life decision making. Section two focuses on the patient and covers patient confidentiality, family decision-making and interaction with the healthcare team, issues of patient and team non-adherence to the care plan, and elder abuse and neglect. Section three examines the emerging difficulties of decentralized health care in settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, and the home, including clinician accountability and how ethical dilemmas differ across settings. Section four discusses the problems arising from the increasing responsibility of clinicians to manage costs and serve the interests of hospitals and insurers.
Mathy D. Mezey, Ed.D., R.N., is Independence Foundation Professor of Nursing Education and Director of the John A. Hartford Foundation Institute for Geriatric Nursing Practice in the Division of Nursing at New York University. She and her coeditors directed efforts for the John A. Hartford Foundation's Geriatric Interdisciplinary Team Training (GITT) Program.