Semin Respir Crit Care Med 2021; 42(01): 160-168
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1710370
Review Article

End-of-Life Issues in Intensive Care Units

Victoria Metaxa
1  Critical Care Department, King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom
› Author Affiliations


Critical care clinicians strive to reverse the disease process and are frequently faced with difficult end-of-life (EoL) situations, which include transitions from curative to palliative care, avoidance of disproportionate care, withholding or withdrawing therapy, responding to advance treatment directives, as well as requests for assistance in dying. This article presents a summary of the most common issues encountered by intensivists caring for patients around the end of their life. Topics explored are the practices around limitations of life-sustaining treatment, with specific mention to the thorny subject of assisted dying and euthanasia, as well as the difficulties encountered regarding the adoption of advance care directives in clinical practice and the importance of integrating palliative care in the everyday practice of critical-care physicians. The aim of this article is to enhance understanding around the complexity of EoL decisions, highlight the intricate cultural, religious, and social dimensions around death and dying, and identify areas of potential improvement for individual practice.

Publication History

Publication Date:
09 August 2020 (online)

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