Case Study Application of an Ethical Decision-Making Process for a Fragility Hip Fracture Patient

Lynn Haslam, Vincent DePaul


In Canada, up to 32,000 older adults experience a fragility hip fracture. In Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has implemented strategies to reduce surgical wait times and improve outcomes in target areas. These best practice standards advocate for immediate surgical repair, within 48 hours of admission, in order to achieve optimal recovery outcomes. The majority of patients are good candidates for surgical repair; however, for some patients, given the risks of anesthetic and trauma of the operative procedure, surgery may not be the best choice. Patients and families face a dif-ficult and hurried decision, often with no time to voice their concerns, or with little-to-no information on which to guide their choice. Similarly, health-care providers may experience moral distress or hesitancy to articulate other options, such as palliative care.  Is every fragility fracture a candidate for surgery, no matter what the outcome? When is it right to discuss other options with the patient? This article examines a case study via an application of a framework for ethical decision-making.

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ISSN: 1925-8348 (Online)