J Med Ethics 37:126-128 doi:10.1136/jme.2010.040147
  • Brief report

Respecting frailty

  1. Paige Moorhouse
  1. Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Laurie H Mallery, Head, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Dalhousie University, QEII Health Sciences Centre, 5955 Veterans' Memorial Lane, Ste. 2650, Halifax, NS B3H 2E1, Canada; laurie.mallery{at}
  1. Contributors The PATH (Palliative and Therapeutic Harmonization) programme and its foundation principles are a joint effort of both authors.

  • Received 8 September 2010
  • Revised 15 October 2010
  • Accepted 31 October 2010
  • Published Online First 21 November 2010


While the medical treatment of older individuals often results in desirable outcomes, indiscriminate use of aggressive treatment at the end-of-life can cause paradoxical harm and suffering. Comprehensive assessment and communication can help foster decisions that consider the effect of frailty on health outcomes.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.