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Medical Ethics |

Meeting Physicians’ Responsibilities in Providing End-of-Life Care*

Hasan Shanawani, MD; Marjorie D. Wenrich, MPH; Mark R. Tonelli, MD, MA, FCCP; J. Randall Curtis, MD, MPH, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

*From the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine (Dr. Shanawani), Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI; and the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care (Drs. Tonelli and Curtis), Department of Medicine, School of Medicine (Ms. Wenrich), University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Correspondence to: J. Randall Curtis, MD, MPH, FCCP, Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Harborview Medical Center, Box 359762, 325 Ninth Ave, Seattle, WA 98104-2499; e-mail: jrc@u.washington.edu


Chest. 2008;133(3):775-786. doi:10.1378/chest.07-2177
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Despite many clinical examples of exemplary end-of-life care, a number of studies highlight significant shortcomings in the quality of end-of-life care that the majority of patients receive. In part, this stems from inconsistencies in training and supporting clinicians in delivering end-of-life care. This review describes the responsibilities of pulmonary and critical care physicians in providing end-of-life care to patients and their families. While many responsibilities are common to all physicians who care for patients with life-limiting illness, some issues are particularly relevant to pulmonary and critical care physicians. These issues include prognostication and decision making about goals of care, challenges and approaches to communicating with patients and their family, the role of interdisciplinary collaboration, principles and practice of withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining measures, and cultural competency in end-of-life care.

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