Ep. 371 Complicated Decisions in the ICU with Travis Rieder

Learn how a bioethicist found himself in a decision-making dilemma after his own father suffered a healthcare crisis and was on a ventilator in the ICU.

My guest Travis Rieder is a bioethicist and the director of the Master of Bioethics degree program at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. He is also an author and TED Talk speaker who recently penned an article titled “A Father’s Wish, A Bioethicist’s Dilemma.” He shares the dilemma he faced as a healthcare proxy for his father during a dire health crisis, which sheds light on the challenges of making the best decisions in the moment when the outcome is uncertain. Learn more about his writing at his website:


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This episode includes:

  • What bioethicists do and how Travis was attracted to this field
  • What is “preventable catastrophe” and how that concept informs his work
  • Bioethical challenges during the pandemic
  • The personal dilemma he faced when his father was in the ICU
  • The importance of clear communication during a health crisis
  • Why knowing your loved one’s wishes may not always lead to easy decision-making
  • How to make the best decisions even when information is limited
  • How this experience changed what Travis teaches his bioethics students

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County Soul Care Speaker Series October 12th at Noon Pacific: Register here
  • DDNBC Workshop with Barbara Karnes and Karen Wyatt October 13th at 6:30 pm Pacific: Register here
  • Travis Rieder’s Article: A Father’s Wish, a Bioethicist’s Dilemma”

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