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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 43

of 'Palliative care: Issues in the intensive care unit in adults'

43
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Duration of withdrawal of life support in the intensive care unit and association with family satisfaction.
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Gerstel E, Engelberg RA, Koepsell T, Curtis JR
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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2008;178(8):798. Epub 2008 Aug 14.
 
RATIONALE: Most deaths in the intensive care unit (ICU) involve withholding or withdrawing multiple life-sustaining therapies, but little is known about how to proceed practically and how this process affects family satisfaction.
OBJECTIVES: To examine the duration of life-support withdrawal and its association with overall family satisfaction with care in the ICU.
METHODS: We studied family members of 584 patients who died in an ICU at 1 of 14 hospitals after withdrawal of life support and for whom complete medical chart and family questionnaires were available.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Data concerning six life-sustaining interventions administered during the last 5 days of life were collected. Families were asked to rate their satisfaction with care using the Family Satisfaction in the ICU questionnaire. For nearly half of the patients (271/584), withdrawal of all life-sustaining interventions took more than 1 day. Patientswith a prolonged (>1 d) life-support withdrawal were younger, stayed longer in the ICU, had more life-sustaining interventions, had less often a diagnosis of cancer, and had more decision makers involved. Among patients with longer ICU stays, a longer duration in life-support withdrawal was associated with an increase in family satisfaction with care (P = 0.037). Extubation before death was associated with higher family satisfaction with care (P = 0.009).
CONCLUSIONS: Withdrawal of life support is a complex process that depends on patient and family characteristics. Stuttering withdrawal is a frequent phenomenon that seems to be associated with family satisfaction. Extubation before death should be encouraged if possible.
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Departments of Internal Medicine and Critical Care, Geneva University Hospitals of Geneva and University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
PMID