We studied whether families and physicians decided as patients do, in discontinuation of life-supporting treatment. We did so by comparing 66 competent patients, who themselves decided to stop dialysis to die, and 66 incompetent patients for whom families and physicians decided. We also compared comatose to demented patients and families’ to physician’s decision-making. There was no difference in sex, diagnosis, age, time period, decision maker (family or physician), site of residence, duration or type of dialysis, home or in-center dialysis or survival time after discontinuation. More competent than incompetent patients died at home (p < 0.005). All incompetent patients had emerging complications, but such complications were present in only 40/60 competent patients (p < 0.0005). In the early 1970s the physician initiated the termination of dialysis in all cases of incompetent patients; in the 1980s this had decreased to 48% ( < 0.001). No case was decided by court or hospital committee. There was no difference between comatose or demented incompetent patients, nor was there any important difference between family and physician decision-making. We believe our study indicates that substitute judgement is applied appropriately and that the decision can safely and best be left to families and physicians.

This content is only available via PDF.
Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer
Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.
You do not currently have access to this content.