Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 November 2019
This chapter provides an ethical framework for setting justified limits on life-sustaining treatment.
Sometimes a patient’s condition has deteriorated to such a degree that in deliberative clinical judgment the prediction of imminent death becomes reliable. When death is imminent patients are transferred to a critical care unit in which they receive life-sustaining treatment. Life-sustaining treatment deploys a range of interventions, including physical intervention such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation; intravenous administration of drugs, fluids, and nutrition; and mechanical devices such as circulation devices, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, dialysis, and ventilators. These interventions are designed to support or replace organ functions in the absence of which the risk of mortality will rapidly approach 100%.