Critically Ill Patients Category

Medical Opinions Regarding Withholding or Withdrawing Support Most of the court cases cited regarding withholding or withdrawal of life support were brought by patients or their proxies against physicians and medical institutions for failing to withhold or withdraw support. Furthermore, most of the legislation cited earlier has been advanced by the legal and not the […]

Use of Advance Directives In all the cases cited earlier, the courts have endorsed the use of patients’ previously stated wishes regarding life support and the validity of patient proxies in articulating these wishes or deciding for the patients when their wishes are not known. In parallel with these judicial actions, private individuals have chosen […]

The celebrated case of Barber v Superior Court (1983) confirmed the utility of “substituted judgment” and also answered the question of physician liability in withholding or withdrawing life support. This case involved two California physicians who performed surgical closure of an ileostomy on Mr. Herbert, who subsequently suffered cardiopulmonary arrest. Five days later they determined […]

The American judicial system, which has supported the concept of brain death as described earlier, also has been instrumental in shaping public attitudes and social policy in the area of withholding or withdrawing support from patients who are not brain dead. In the process, the courts have underscored the importance of privacy and the right […]

This concept was appealing, because it recognized the integrative function of the central nervous system (CNS), without which there can be no breathing or heartbeat. The legal propriety of brain death was upheld in the case of Tucker v Lower (1972), in which a Virginia court found that physicians who removed Bruce Tucker from a […]

Despite the factors that influence physicians to treat critically ill patients whenever possible, the idea that life must be supported at all costs has become increasingly less persuasive in the ICU. One reason for this is dissatisfaction with the technologies that have given to ICU its present prominence; a case in point is the pulmonary […]

Withholding and withdrawal of life support are the processes by which various medical interventions either are not given to or are removed from patients with the expectation that they probably will die without such interventions. These processes are possible because technologic advances have allowed life to be supported in the first place. Because life support […]