Cancer Care Ethics in the Emergency Center

  • Colleen M. GallagherEmail author
  • Jessica A. Moore
  • Jeffrey S. Farroni
Part of the MD Anderson Cancer Care Series book series (MDCCS)


The emergency center (EC) is a technical, specialized, fast-paced environment where time is of the essence. Falling into a process by which the need for immediate response overshadows the need for ethical examination of important aspects of patient care is easy. Our purpose is to provide clinicians with some ethical considerations that can be made and reduce challenges to caring for the cancer patient in the EC. Cancer patients are often seen in ECs because of issues at the end of life, uncontrolled physical pain, and psychosocial or coping issues. This chapter deals with some of these and other common issues, including delirium, quickly changing condition, and possible drug-seeking behaviors for coping. Also considered are clinician responses to these as well as issues to recognize when assisting patients and their surrogates with decision-making during these difficult times. Case examples, discussion of the ethical challenges, and suggestions for the clinician and health care team are used to highlight and examine some of the ethical dilemmas faced in the EC.


Ethics Informed consent Decision-making Refusal Drug-seeking Delirium Pain 



The authors express their appreciation to John T. Patlan, M.D., Associate Professor in the Department of General Internal Medicine at MD Anderson, for sharing his knowledge and wisdom during the writing of this chapter.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colleen M. Gallagher
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jessica A. Moore
    • 1
  • Jeffrey S. Farroni
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Critical Care, Unit 1430The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA

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