Book review: Ethics at the End of Life: New issues and Arguments

Clinical nurse specialist Claire Windsor reviews Ethics at the End of Life: New issues and Arguments.

Ethics at the End of Life: New issues and Arguments

John K. Davis


£85 hardback | 254pp

ISBN: 9781138929756 hardback

An interesting read, although it was a struggle at times as the topic is particularly heavy. The book doesn't have a nursing focus, but more of a philosophical approach, particularly the first half of the book.

It is a useful read for any nurses caring for patients at the end of their lives, especially when mental capacity is no longer present, or for nurses with a particular interest in ethics or decision making at the end of life. I wouldn't necessarily recommend an individual nurse buys this book but it would be a welcome addition to any library.

Despite the book’s title containing the words ‘new issues and arguments’, there were many aspects of it that have been covered elsewhere. Some of the topics were repeated at times in different chapters which was frustrating. I found the chapters about deciding for the incompetent, medical futility and refusing lifesaving medical treatment particularly useful as they were more clinical with cases explaining the concept of the philosophy.

However, I found the most thought provoking chapter was by Michael Cholbi on grief and end of life surrogate decision making. This is not something that I have previously read about, and now feel it should be at the forefront of healthcare professionals’ minds when embarking on these difficult discussions with surrogate decision makers.

Reviewed by Claire Windsor, clinical nurse specialist, specialist palliative care team, London North West Healthcare NHS Trust

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