Introduction: Over the last several years, there have been legal decisions and changes in medical directives concerning end-of-life decisions in Israel.
Methods: The data were compared to evaluate the changes in the frequency and types of forgoing of life-sustaining treatment (FLST) in patients who were admitted to the ICU during period I (November 1994 to July 1995) and period II (January 1998 to January 1999).
Results: During period I, there were 385 ICU admissions, and during period II there were 627 ICU admissions. In period I, FLST or death occurred in 13.5% of patients, and in 12% in period II. There was no significant difference in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (9% vs 13%, respectively), withholding therapy (90% vs 91%, respectively), or withdrawing therapy (0% vs 0%, respectively) between the two study periods.
Conclusions: There was no significant change in the frequency or types of FLST in an Israeli ICU between 1994 and 1998, despite passage of a new Patients’ Rights Law and the issuing of a Ministry of Health directive on the treatment of the terminally ill, both of which occurred in 1996, and recent district court decisions favoring the termination of life-sustaining therapies.