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Ethics issues in dementia care are often inconsistent, study says

August 16, 2013
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) fall short when dealing with ethical issues pertaining to residents with dementia, a study published in the journal PLOS Medicine concludes.

To date, many physicians have tended to use their own instincts to choose the best treatments for residents with dementia, the study authors acknowledge. But the current clinical practice guideline manuals don’t address the wider ethical issues involved in dementia care, the researchers say.

“These findings show that national CPGs on dementia care already address clinical ethical issues but that the extent to which the spectrum of DSEIs [disease-specific ethical issues] is considered varies widely within and between CPGs,” the study authors report. “Guidelines should address ethical issues and how to deal with them to help the medical profession understand how to approach care of patients with dementia, and for patients, their relatives, and the general public, all of whom might seek information and advice in national guidelines.”

The study findings encourage all long-term care communities to explore new ways to meld the data necessities of the CPGs with the personal needs of residents with dementia, including welcoming the  input from their families, the study authors say.

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