Advocate Lutheran General Hospital

About the Author(s)

Rev. Mark Lones is a chaplain at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL.


Ethics, end-of-life, personhood, palliative care, values, ethical framework, goals of care


The primary goal of medical care is to assist patients to address medical issues which may threaten their health in order to preserve and restore the quality of the patients’ life. However, when a patient’s prognosis for meaningful survival is poor, there is a change in focus from restorative care to palliative care. The transition from “cure to comfort” is one of the most challenging and important medical care decisions the patient and family may encounter. The purpose of this article is to help give patients, families and care-givers an ethical framework to effectively discuss treatment options, values, and preferences during the change from restorative care to palliative care.

Having discussed the many obstacles which impede meaningful participation for end-of-life decision making, the focus of this article then turns to the ethical concerns which should undergird end-of-life decisions. Perhaps the most significant ethical consideration is not patient autonomy but the valuing the personhood of the patient. The main objective of end-of-life discussions should be to prepare patients and their families to work with the medical team to make the best possible “in-the-moment” care decisions. These discussions should focus on outcomes, not treatments. These expected outcomes should respect the personhood of the patient, their values and priorities. Our society has struggled for several decades to define appropriate end-of-life medical care which promotes life and does not simply prolong a person’s natural death. This article takes a step toward defining an ethical framework for effective end-of-life discussions.

Article Number




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


DigitalCommons@Cedarville provides a publication platform for fully open access journals, which means that all articles are available on the Internet to all users immediately upon publication. However, the opinions and sentiments expressed by the authors of articles published in our journals do not necessarily indicate the endorsement or reflect the views of DigitalCommons@Cedarville, the Centennial Library, or Cedarville University and its employees. The authors are solely responsible for the content of their work. Please address questions to dc@cedarville.edu.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.