Mechanical circulatory support (MCS) such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, left ventricular assist devices and total artificial hearts have altered the natural history of heart failure, and specialists in the fields of cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery are faced with more complex ethical considerations than ever before. Residency and fellowship training programs, however, do not have formal curricula in medical ethics as it applies to MCS. In response, this article proposes that ethics be integrated into graduate medical education with a focus on the following 6 constructs: patient best interest, respect for autonomy, informed consent, shared decision making, surrogate decision making, and end-of-life care. Curricula should offer learning experiences that help physicians navigate common ethical challenges encountered in practice.
AMA Journal of Ethics 21 (5) : E407-415Full article