Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 39 (2):254-262 (2011)

The ethics sections of Critical Care Societies have issued position statements and proposed a variety of position papers and policies describing the appropriate use of critical care services. These policies describe the goals of critical care provision — to support a patient through an acute, potentially reversible, life-threatening illness — and provide broad guidance on physiological and hemodynamic criteria that require the specialized care of an ICU environment. In recent years, many critical care professionals have, however, reported providing care they felt was inappropriate or futile even though most felt they should not have done so. Futile care encompasses treatments that will not work or treatments that have no chance of providing any benefit. ICU teams define care as inappropriate when it fails to restore a person to an awareness of self, and an ability to interact with their environment particularly when a lot of critical care resources are required. When patients experience significant amounts of pain and suffering, such care seems even more inappropriate.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1748-720x.2011.00594.x
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