Removal of Life Support in Intensive Care Units
Medicine and Law 1994; 13(5+6): 489-500
Advancements in techniques of medical technology have made it possible to postpone death, which, in many situations, amounts to nothing more than a protracted process of dying rather than a prolonging of life. This, together with the fact that these techniques are prohibitively expensive has brought to the fore difficult and extremely uncomfortable problems in medical ethics, especially with regard to who should have and who should not have high technology medical treatment. The principles of autonomy and informed consent, in the context of a shared resource such as intensive care, are particularly thorny issues. Normally it is imperative that individuals make their own autonomous decisions in respect of medical treatment but there are times when consent is of secondary importance and when autonomy must of necessity be limited. However, information concerning medical decisions in intensive care should always be freely available to patients and their surrogates.
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The Practice of and Documentation on Withholding and Withdrawing Life Support: A Retrospective Study in Two Dutch Intensive Care Units Spronk, Peter E.; Kuiper, Alexej V.; Rommes, Johannes H.; Korevaar, Joke C.; Schultz, Marcus J. (2009-09)