Online Program

Law, Ethics, and the Issues Concerning Health Care Decisions for the Elderly

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 9:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.

Martin Wasserman, MD, JD, FAAP, Division of Health Care Quality, Provider Resources, Inc, Ellicott City, MD
End of life care requires many decisions on the part of the individual, family, and care-giver.  But these decisions do not occur independently and autonomously.  Social values, ethics and the legal system frequently might prevent certain decisions from being carried out.  The most recognizable issue is one that questions whether the individual might take his own life and under what conditions he may (or may not) do so.  But other issues such as what medications the aging patient might take, what health care services he is entitled to, and what will be paid for by society through, for example, the Medicare program and the Affordable Care Act are all subject to external intervention and not totally within the control of the individual, family, and care giver. 

This presentation will identify a series of health care issues that relate to an aging individual who has a chronic illness for which there is no cure.  What decisions may he make alone, what legal instruments are available to assist him/her with those decisions, what legal (and ethical) restrictions are present and what are their explanations.  How is the law changing and what is the difference between state law and federal law?  What are the most compelling Supreme Court decisions that relate to this topic and what are the potential future directions for end of life care decisions?  Finally, can we expect more or less autonomy in this most critical area of one’s life cycle?

Learning Areas:

Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the legal and ethical issues that help to define and understand how health care decisions should be approached for the aging individual and family.

Keyword(s): Health Law, End-of-Life Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am trained in both medicine and the law and have been the Commissioner of Health for both Maryland and Oregon. I have been president of the Public Health Law Association for two terms and utilize the law for many of my public health decisions. Law, ethics, and issues of aging have become a special interest of mine and I wish to share my learnings with the greater public health community.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.