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Is Withholding Life Support Associated With a Premature Death?: If So, What Does This Mean for ICU Practice?

Helene Starks, PhD, MPH; J. Randall Curtis, MD, MPH
Author and Funding Information

Seattle, WA

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



Chest. 2008;133(6):1298-1300. doi:10.1378/chest.07-3099
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The practice of withholding life-sustaining treatments in the ICU typically occurs when the conditions of one or both of two premises are met. The first premise is that the prognosis for survival is poor, even with life-sustaining treatment, and that withholding these treatments will not affect the ultimate outcome. The second premise is that the potential benefits of treatment, in terms of quantity and quality of life, are not, in the judgment of the patient (or of the surrogate decision maker) worth the burden of these treatments.

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