Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 23 (6):616 – 627 (1998)
The practice of critical care medicine has long been a difficult task for most critical care physicians in the densely populated city of Hong Kong, where we face limited resources and a limited number of intensive care beds. Our triage decisions are largely based on the potential of functional reversibility of the patients. Provision of graded care beds may help to relieve some of the demands on the intensive care beds. Decisions to forego futile medical treatment are frequently physician-guided family-based decisions, which is quite contrary to the Western focus on patient autonomy. However, as people acquire knowledge about health care and they become more aware of individual rights, our critical care doctors will be able to narrow the gaps between the dif ferent concepts of medical ethics among our professionals as well as in our society. An open and caring attitude from our intensivists will be important in minimizing the cross-cultural conflict on the complex issue of medical futility.
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