Ethical Issues of Emergency Medical Care for Older Patients

  • Helen AskitopoulouEmail author
  • Katrin Singler
  • Thomas Frühwald
  • Monique Weissenberger-Leduc


Ethics are central to the clinical practice of quality emergency medicine. Emergency physicians must be able to recognise the ethical issues in the care of older patients who present to the emergency department and to respond to them in a manner that will provide the greatest benefit for each patient. The human rights of this vulnerable and diverse ageing population should be preserved and protected by unified and coordinated efforts. The decisions about the emergency treatment of these patients should be based on the moral framework of the four ethical principles of autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and justice. These principles serve as a useful framework for the main ethical issues involved in the emergency care of older people such as decision-making capacity, advance directives, fairness of treatment and resource allocation, end-of-life decisions, do not attempt resuscitation (DNAR) orders, older abuse and dementia. The same ethical principles should be considered when ensuring the ability of older patients to fulfil the requirements of ethical research in the emergency department.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Askitopoulou
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Katrin Singler
    • 3
    • 4
  • Thomas Frühwald
    • 5
  • Monique Weissenberger-Leduc
    • 6
  1. 1.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CreteHeraklion, CreteGreece
  2. 2.European Society for Emergency Medicine (EUSEM) Ethics CommitteeRethymnoGreece
  3. 3.Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, Institute for Biomedicine of AgingFriedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-NürnbergErlangenGermany
  4. 4.Klinikum NürnbergParacelsus Private Medical UniversityNürnbergGermany
  5. 5.Austrian Society of Geriatrics and GerontologyWienAustria
  6. 6.Forum Palliative Praxis GeriatrieViennaAustria

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