Vol 5, No 2 (2020)
Case report
Published online: 2020-05-14

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Ethical issues concerning cardiac surgery in elderly patients — the nurse’s role as a patient advocate: A case report

Marta Wleklik1, Izabella Uchmanowicz1, Piotr Sobański2, Tomasz Pasierski3
Medical Research Journal 2020;5(2):120-125.


Introduction: Frailty syndrome (FS) is one of the well-known risk factors for cardiac surgical treatment. Moreover, older patients are more likely to suffer from various comorbidities. Ethical issues that arise in patient care should be considered, including their identification, analysis, and appropriate resolution. The study aimed to present the nurse’s role in the therapeutic team, which should take the floor as a patient
advocate representing her/his interest.

Case presentation: An 82-year-old patient was admitted to the Cardiac Surgery Clinic and was discussed in the context of emerging ethical dilemmas in clinical practice. The peri-operative risk was assessed as high; the nurse identified both frailty phenotype and FS. Currently, at postoperative day 40, the patient remains sedated, haemodynamically unstable, and has a poor long-term prognosis.

Summary: If the patient is not presented with a risk assessment that includes FS assessment during the qualification process, it can be concluded that this omission violates the information component of informed consent. Nurses must speak out in those patients’ interests in order to preclude actions that may increase their vulnerability during cardiac surgery.

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