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Ethical Duties of Nephrologists: When Patients Are Nonadherent to Treatment.





When providing care, nephrologists are subject to various ethical duties. Beyond the Hippocratic notion of doing no harm, nephrologists also have duties to respect their patients' autonomy and dignity, to meet their patients' care goals in the least invasive way, to act impartially, and, ultimately, to do what is (clinically) beneficial for their patients. Juggling these often-conflicting duties can be challenging at the best of times, but can prove especially difficult when patients are not fully adherent to treatment. When a patient's nonadherence begins to cause harm to themselves and/or others, it may be questioned whether discontinuation of care is appropriate. We discuss how nephrologists can meet their ethical duties when faced with nonadherence in patients undergoing hemodialysis, including episodic extreme agitation, poor renal diet, missed hemodialysis sessions, and emergency presentations brought on by nonadherence. Furthermore, we consider the impact of cognitive impairment and provider-family conflict when making care decisions in a nonadherence context, as well as how the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic might affect responses to nonadherence. Suggestions are provided for ethically informed responses, prioritizing a patient-narrative approach that is attentive to patients' values and preferences, multidisciplinarity, and the use of behavioral contracts and/or technology where appropriate.

Acceptance Date Jul 27, 2021
Publication Date Jul 27, 2021
Journal Seminars in Nephrology
Print ISSN 0270-9295
Publisher Elsevier
Pages 262 - 271
Publisher URL