Injury in the elderly and end-of-life decisions.
The elderly constitute the fastest growing sector of the population of the United Stated and geriatric trauma patients are presenting for care with increasing frequency. These patients are challenging particularly because of their vulnerability to severe injury, limited physiologic response to stress, and frequent presence of comorbid medical conditions complicating care. Many elderly trauma victims require prolonged intensive care and some fail to improve or succumb despite the best efforts because of the extent of their injuries and their underlying disease. These patients may present profound ethical challenges for trauma surgeons as the goals of care shift from salvage to end-of-life care.