In addition to implement lifesaving therapy, a crucial part of the intensivist’s job is to establish the clinical situation of each patient and determine when to withhold or withdraw treatment if no hope for cure or benefit exists. The study of Christensen et al uses data from a European prospective observational study to describe end-of-life practices in three Danish intensive care units (ICU). Based on an analysis of 264 patient cases and comparisons with data from other European countries, the authors report that almost a quarter of the patients had limitations on treatments. The Danish ICUs differ from their European counterparts by more frequently withholding and withdrawing treatments. The authors conclude that both differences in the triage pattern to the ICUs and differences in the legislation between different countries may explain their results and that an increasing number of ICU patients are involved in the decisions concerning their treatment.
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Treatment limitations in intensive care units
Lars Christensen, Hanne Jensen, Steffen Kristensen et al