0
Original Research |

Implementation of ICU Palliative Care Guidelines and Procedures: A Quality Improvement Initiative Following an Investigation of Alleged Euthanasia

Ware G. Kuschner, MD, FCCP*; David A. Gruenewald, MD; Nancy Clum, RN, MN; Alice Beal, MD, FCCP; Stephen C. Ezeji-Okoye, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From the Medical Service (Dr. Kuschner), Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Section, US Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA; Geriatrics and Extended Care Service (Dr. Gruenewald), US Department of Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA; US Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System (Ms. Clum), Palo Alto, CA; Medical Service (Dr. Beal), US Department of Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Health Care System, Brooklyn, NY; and Medical Service and Chief of Staff Office (Dr. Ezeji-Okoye), US Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA.

Correspondence to: Ware G. Kuschner, MD, FCCP, US Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, 3801 Miranda Ave, Mail Code: 111P, Palo Alto, CA 94304; e-mail: ware.kuschnermd@va.gov

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/misc/reprints.shtml).


The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/misc/reprints.shtml).

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/misc/reprints.shtml).


Chest. 2009;135(1):26-32. doi:10.1378/chest.08-1685
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Ethical conflicts are commonly encountered in the course of delivering end-of-life care in the ICU. Some ethical concerns have legal dimensions, including concerns about inappropriate hastening of death. Despite these concerns, many ICUs do not have explicit policies and procedures for withdrawal of life-sustaining treatments. We describe a US Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation of end-of-life care practices in our ICU. The investigation focused on care delivered to four critically ill patients with terminal diseases and an ICU nurse's concern that the patients had been subjected to euthanasia. The OIG investigation also assessed the validity of allegations that patient flow in and out of our ICU was inappropriately influenced by scheduled surgeries and that end-of-life care policies in our ICU were not clear. Although the investigation did not substantiate the allegations of euthanasia or inappropriate ICU patient flow, it did find that the policies that discuss end-of-life care issues were not clear and allowed for wide-ranging interpretations.

Acting on the OIG recommendations, we developed a quality improvement initiative addressing end-of-life care in our ICU, intended to enhance communication and understanding about palliative care practices in our ICU, to prevent ethical conflicts surrounding end-of-life care, and to improve patient care. The initiative included the introduction of newly developed ICU comfort care guidelines, a physician order set, and a physician template note. Additionally, we implemented an educational program for ICU staff. Staff feedback regarding the initiative has been highly favorable, and the nurse whose concerns led to the investigation was satisfied not only with the investigation but also the policies and procedures that were subsequently introduced in our ICU.


Sign In to Access Full Content

MEMBER & INDIVIDUAL SUBSCRIBER

Want Access?

NEW TO CHEST?

Become a CHEST member and receive a FREE subscription as a benefit of membership.

Individuals can purchase this article on ScienceDirect.

Individuals can purchase a subscription to the journal.

Individuals can purchase a subscription to the journal or buy individual articles.

Learn more about membership or Purchase a Full Subscription.

INSTITUTIONAL ACCESS

Institutional access is now available through ScienceDirect and can be purchased at myelsevier.com.

Sign In to Access Full Content

MEMBER & INDIVIDUAL SUBSCRIBER

Want Access?

NEW TO CHEST?

Become a CHEST member and receive a FREE subscription as a benefit of membership.

Individuals can purchase this article on ScienceDirect.

Individuals can purchase a subscription to the journal.

Individuals can purchase a subscription to the journal or buy individual articles.

Learn more about membership or Purchase a Full Subscription.

INSTITUTIONAL ACCESS

Institutional access is now available through ScienceDirect and can be purchased at myelsevier.com.

Figures

Tables

References

NOTE:
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).

Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Sign In to Access Full Content

MEMBER & INDIVIDUAL SUBSCRIBER

Want Access?

NEW TO CHEST?

Become a CHEST member and receive a FREE subscription as a benefit of membership.

Individuals can purchase this article on ScienceDirect.

Individuals can purchase a subscription to the journal.

Individuals can purchase a subscription to the journal or buy individual articles.

Learn more about membership or Purchase a Full Subscription.

INSTITUTIONAL ACCESS

Institutional access is now available through ScienceDirect and can be purchased at myelsevier.com.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

CHEST Journal Articles
PubMed Articles
Guidelines
  • CHEST Journal
    Print ISSN: 0012-3692
    Online ISSN: 1931-3543