Katherine is in her early eighties and suffers from a cardiac valve condition diagnosed about a decade ago. She has been adamant with her cardiologist since first learning of the problem that she will not have surgery, even if eventually necessary to save her life. Her response anytime he has broached the subject has always been, “I’ve lived a full life and I am at peace with going whenever the Lord chooses to take me.” Until recently, her condition has remained stable without surgical intervention, and she has otherwise always been very healthy.
About two years ago, she was diagnosed with dementia, and the disease has progressed rapidly. Despite being advised many times by her doctors to develop advance directives regarding her care, she has not done so saying, “my children know my wishes and will do the right thing.” Katherine can no longer able to make medical decisions for herself and her daughter has power of attorney.
Her cardiac condition is becoming more acute. Her cardiologist believes that without surgery, she will deteriorate and likely die within a matter of months. He has learned since getting to know Katherine’s daughter that she is committed to aggressive treatment for her mother, and is not open to any discussion of palliative care. Should the doctor withhold the information about the change in Katherine’s condition from her daughter in order to ensure the wishes Katherine expressed to him when she was able to do so are honored?