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August 2010, Volume 40 Number 8 , p 10 - 11


  • Susan A. Salladay PhD, RN


I'm caring for a patient who's terminally ill with advanced meningeal sarcoma. His wife, who has durable power of attorney for healthcare, will soon need to begin making healthcare decisions for him. I know she'll be legally entitled to all of her husband's medical information so she can make informed decisions once my patient is no longer able to do so.This patient confided to me that he was recently diagnosed with Huntington disease (HD). He said he hasn't told his wife because their marriage has been "rocky." Now he's terrified to think how she and their children will react when they learn of this condition. He's begged us not to disclose this information until after he dies to spare them additional stress during his final days.Can we ethically limit the amount and type of information given to his wife, if that's the patient's wish?—H.B., COLO.At this point, your patient sounds as if he's still able to make his own healthcare decisions, so

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