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Withdrawal of life-sustaining therapies: Mechanical ventilation, dialysis, and cardiac devices 

Withdrawal of life-sustaining therapies: Mechanical ventilation, dialysis, and cardiac devices
Chapter:
Withdrawal of life-sustaining therapies: Mechanical ventilation, dialysis, and cardiac devices
Author(s):

Margaret L. Campbell

and Linda M. Gorman

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199332342.003.0028
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date: 12 November 2018

Withdrawal of mechanical ventilation (MV), discontinuation of dialysis, and deactivation of cardiac devices are procedures that occur with relative frequency. The benefits of these therapies, when initiated, are to replace failing organs, extend life, and improve quality of life by relieving symptom distress associated with organ failure. When the burdens exceed the benefits, or when the patient is near death or unresponsive, decisions may be made to cease these therapies. In some cases, such as implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) deactivation, no distress is anticipated. In others, such as discontinuing dialysis or withdrawing MV, measures to palliate anticipated distress must be applied. A peaceful death after cessation of life-prolonging therapies can be provided.

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