Purpose: Intensive care unit health care professionals must be skilled in providing end-of-life care. Crucial in this kind of care is end-of-life decision-making, which is a complex process involving a variety of stakeholders and requiring adequate justification. The aim of this systematic review is to analyse papers tackling ethical issues in relation to end-of-life decision-making in intensive care units. It explores the ethical positions, arguments and principles.
Methods: A literature search was conducted in bibliographic databases and grey literature sources for the time period from 1990 to 2019. The constant comparative method was used for qualitative analysis of included papers in order to identify ethical content including ethical positions, ethical arguments, and ethical principles used in decision-making process.
Results: In the 15 included papers we have identified a total of 43 ethical positions. Ten positions were identified as substantive, 33 as procedural. Twelve different ethical principles emerged from the ethical arguments. The most frequently used principles are the principles of beneficence, autonomy and nonmaleficence.
Conclusions: We have demonstrated that recommendations and guidelines designed specifically by intensive or critical care experts for intensive care units promote similar ethical positions, with minimal dissenting positions.
Objective: To survey university students on their views concerning the respect for autonomy of patients and the best interest of patients in relation to the withholding of resuscitation.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey among university students of medicine, nursing, philosophy, law and theology of the first and the final study years at the University of Ljubljana and the University of Zagreb was conducted during the academic year of 2016/2017. A questionnaire constructed by Janiver et al. presenting clinical case vignettes was used.
Results: The survey response rates for students in Ljubljana and Zagreb were 45.4% (512 students) and 37.9% (812 students), respectively. The results of our research show statistically significant differences in do-not resuscitate decisions in different cases between medical and non-medical students in both countries. Male and religious students in both countries have lower odds of respecting relatives' wishes for the withholding of resuscitation (odds ratio 0.49-0.54; 95% confidence interval). All students agreed that they would first resuscitate children if they had to prioritize among patients.
Conclusions: Our study clearly shows that gender, religious beliefs, and type of study are important factors associated with the decisions pertaining to the respect for autonomy, patient's best interest, and initiation or withholding of resuscitation.