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Monday, April 18, 2011

SU, PRMC Host Sixth Annual Medical Ethics Conference Monday, April 26

SALISBURY, MD--- No decisions may be more difficult or gut wrenching than those that involve treatment options of loved ones facing terminal illnesses.

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Since the Supreme Court’s landmark 1976 Karen Ann Quinlan decision that gave families the right to discontinue life support under certain circumstances, there has been an evolving discussion on how to treat patients and how to use or not use technology in the final stages of an illness.

Recently, though, attention has been focused on what is the appropriate medical treatment earlier in a fatal illness. If, as some studies have shown, patients can live longer and with a better quality of life receiving palliative care, that further complicates the decision making process for healthcare practitioners, patients and their families.

Salisbury University’s Nursing Department and Peninsula Regional Medical Center’s Patient Care Advisory Committee address some of these tough issues during their sixth annual ethics conference, “Letting Go in the 21st Century: The Ethics of ‘Heroic Care’” from 5-8:45 p.m. Monday, April 26, in the Worcester Room of the Commons at SU. Also co-sponsoring is SU’s Lambda Eta chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society.

“We’re not looking for easy answers,” said Dr. James Cockey, a conference committee member and credentialed physician on the medical staff at Peninsula Regional. “In fact, our purpose is to provoke thought and discussion. We want people leaving the conference with their assumptions challenged.”

The conference’s featured speaker is Dr. Margaret Mohrmann, director of the Biomedical Ethics Program at the University of Virginia. The recipient of numerous teaching awards, her scholarship includes ethics, religion and medicine. Mohrmann speaks nationally to a variety of audiences including physicians, medical students, nurses, theologians, chaplains and laypersons. She is the author of numerous articles and several books on the topics of ethics, suffering and medicine.

“Dr. Mohrmann is ideal for this conference,” said Dr. Frances Kane, committee member and recently retired SU professor of philosophy and medical ethics. “She not only knows well the issue here, but can put it in the larger context of what the meaning of a professional is in the 21st century.”

Other presenters include urologist Dr. Mark Edney, who presents a case dealing with the conference theme, and palliative care specialist Dr. David Cowall, who addresses palliative care and outcomes based on his work at Peninsula Regional’s Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute. The conference concludes with a panel discussion led by Cockey.

Admission is $50 for physicians, healthcare professionals and the general public; $40 for Peninsula Regional and SU employees; and $20 for full-time students and chaplains/clergy. Dinner is provided. Registration deadline is Thursday, April 21.

For information or to register call Debora Musser at 410-543-7157 or Cindy Bennett at 410-543-7131.



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