The aim of this article is to explore the concept of medical futility and the withdrawal of care for children in intensive care units. There have been several recent cases where medical staff have considered that there was no possibility of recovery for a child, yet their clinical judgments were challenged by the parents. The private anguish of these families became public, social media heightened emotions and this was followed by political and religious intrusion. Innovations in medical treatment and technological advances raise issues for all those involved in the care of children and young people especially when decisions need to be made about end of life care. Healthcare professionals have a moral and legal obligation to determine when treatment should cease in cases where it is determined to be futile. The aim should be to work collaboratively with parents but all decisions must be made in the best interests of the child. However, medical staff and parents may have differing opinions about care decisions. In part, this may be as a result of their unique relationships with the child and different understanding of the extent to which the child is in discomfort or can endure pain.
"On s'était pourtant mis d'accord avec les enfants : pas d'acharnement". L''acharnement, un sujet on ne peut plus brûlant d'actualité médicale et sociétale.
Dans un service de réanimation où se mêlent technicité, souffrance, guérison, vulnérabilité, espoir et fin de vie, moi infirmière, ne peux plus me défausser face à cette famille qui par ces mots s'exclut, choque, dérange et déstabilise mon équipe.
En cours de formation continue de Soins Palliatifs et d'Accompagnement, il me faut y aller, me risquer, à la rencontre de ces parents qui ne demandent qu'à exister, être entendus, accompagnés.
Qu'a développé en moi, soignante, ce DIU si singulier pour me sentir prête à tenir une présence, tout entendre, et remettre en question ma pratique, mes positions dans des situations toujours plus complexes, humaines et éthiques telles que celles-ci ?
Les concepts d'altérité, transdisciplinarité et pratique réflexive vont m'aider à y répondre...
OBJECTIVES: Patients with indicators for palliative care, such as those with advanced life-limiting conditions, are at risk of futile cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if they suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). Patients at risk of futile CPR could benefit from anticipatory care planning (ACP); however, the proportion of OHCA patients with indicators for palliative care is unknown. This study quantifies the extent of palliative care indicators and risk of CPR futility in OHCA patients.
METHODS: A retrospective medical record review was performed on all OHCA patients presenting to an emergency department (ED) in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2015. The risk of CPR futility was stratified using the Supportive and Palliative Care Indicators Tool. Patients with 0-2 indicators had a 'low risk' of futile CPR; 3-4 indicators had an 'intermediate risk'; 5+ indicators had a 'high risk'.
RESULTS: Of the 283 OHCA patients, 12.4% (35) had a high risk of futile CPR, while 16.3% (46) had an intermediate risk and 71.4% (202) had a low risk. 84.0% (68) of intermediate-to-high risk patients were pronounced dead in the ED or ED step-down ward; only 2.5% (2) of these patients survived to discharge.
CONCLUSIONS: Up to 30% of OHCA patients are being subjected to advanced resuscitation despite having at least three indicators for palliative care. More than 80% of patients with an intermediate-to-high risk of CPR futility are dying soon after conveyance to hospital, suggesting that ACP can benefit some OHCA patients. This study recommends optimising emergency treatment planning to help reduce inappropriate CPR attempts.
The Spanish Society of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine and Coronary Units (SEMICYUC) Bioethics Working Group has developed recommendations on the Limitation of Advanced Life Support Treatment (LLST) decisions, with the aim of reducing variability in clinical practice and of improving end of life care in critically ill patients. The conceptual framework of LLST and futility are explained. Recommendations referred to new forms of LLST encompassing also the adequacy of other treatments and diagnostic methods are developed. In addition, planning of the possible clinical courses following the decision of LLST is commented. The importance of advanced care planning in decision-making is emphasized, and intensive care oriented towards organ donation at end of life in the critically ill patient is described. The integration of palliative care in the critical patient treatment is promoted in end of life stages in the Intensive Care Unit.
Background: The high burden of disease-oriented drugs among older adults with limited life expectancy raises important questions about the potential futility of care.
Aim: To describe the use of drugs of questionable clinical benefit during the last 3 months of life of older adults who died from life-limiting conditions.
Design: Longitudinal, retrospective cohort study of decedents. Death certificate data were linked to administrative and healthcare registries with national coverage in Sweden.
Setting: Older adults (=75 years) who died from conditions potentially amenable to palliative care between 1 January and 31 December 2015 in Sweden. We identified drugs of questionable clinical benefit from a set of consensus-based criteria.
Results: A total of 58,415 decedents were included (mean age, 87.0 years). During their last 3 months of life, they received on average 8.9 different drugs. Overall, 32.0% of older adults continued and 14.0% initiated at least one drug of questionable clinical benefit (e.g. statins, calcium supplements, vitamin D, bisphosphonates, antidementia drugs). These proportions were highest among younger individuals (i.e. aged 75–84 years), among people who died from organ failure and among those with a large number of coexisting chronic conditions. Excluding people who died from acute and potentially unpredictable fatal events had little influence on the results.
Conclusion: A substantial share of older persons with life-limiting diseases receive drugs of questionable clinical benefit during their last months of life. Adequate training, guidance and resources are needed to rationalize and deprescribe drug treatments for older adults near the end of life.
Introduction: The perceptions of medical futility and decisions about termination of resuscitation (TOR) for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) are highly heterogeneous and dependent on the practice of the attending emergency physicians. The objective of this study was to report and investigate the knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding medical futility and TOR during management of OHCA in Hong Kong.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among emergency medicine physicians in Hong Kong. The questionnaire assessed participants’ background, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours concerning medical futility and TOR in management of OHCA. Composite scores were calculated to reflect knowledge, attitudes, and practices of OHCA treatment. Subgroup analysis and multiple regression analysis were used to explore the relationship between participants’ background, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours.
Results: The response rate to this survey was 57% (140/247). Independent predictors of less aggressive resuscitation in OHCA patients included status as a Fellow of the Hong Kong College of Emergency Medicine (ß= -0.314, P=0.028) and being an Advanced Cardiac Life Support instructor (ß= -0.217, P=0.032). There was no difference in aggressiveness of resuscitation in terms of years of clinical experience (ß=0.015, P=0.921), knowledge of TOR (ß=0.057, P=0.509), or attitudes about TOR (ß= -0.103, P=0.214). The correlation between knowledge and attitudes was low (Spearman’s coefficient=0.02, P=0.795).
Conclusion: Clinical practice and behaviour of TOR was not demonstrated to have associations with knowledge or attitude. Status as a Fellow of the Hong Kong College of Emergency Medicine or Advanced Cardiac Life Support instructor were the only two parameters identified that had significant relationships with earlier TOR in medically futile patients with OHCA.
This article argues that while the presence and influence of "futility" as a concept in medical decision-making has declined over the past decade, medicine is seeing the rise of a new concept with similar features: suffering. Like futility, suffering may appear to have a consistent meaning, but in actuality, the concept is colloquially invoked to refer to very different experiences. Like "futility," claims of patient "suffering" have been used (perhaps sometimes consciously, but most often unconsciously) to smuggle value judgments about quality of life into decision-making. And like "futility," it would behoove us to recognize the need for new, clearer terminology. This article will focus specifically on secondhand claims of patient suffering in pediatrics, but the conclusions could be similarly applied to medical decisions for adults being made by surrogate decision-makers. While I will argue that suffering, like futility, is not sufficient wholesale justification for making unilateral treatment decisions, I will also argue that claims of patient suffering cannot be ignored, and that they almost always deserve some kind of response. In the final section, I offer practical suggestions for how to respond to claims of patient suffering.
OBJECTIVE: To increase knowledge of how doctors perceive futile treatments and scarcity of resources at the end of life. In particular, their perceptions about whether and how resource limitations influence end-of-life decision making. This study builds on previous work that found some doctors include resource limitations in their understanding of the concept of futility.
SETTING: Three tertiary hospitals in metropolitan Brisbane, Australia.
DESIGN: Qualitative study using in-depth, semistructured, face-to-face interviews. Ninety-six doctors were interviewed in 11 medical specialties. Transcripts of the interviews were analysed using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Doctors' perceptions of whether resource limitations were relevant to their practice varied, and doctors were more comfortable with explicit rather than implicit rationing. Several doctors incorporated resource limitations into their definition of futility. For some, availability of resources was one factor of many in assessing futility, secondary to patient considerations, but a few doctors indicated that the concept of futility concealed rationing. Doctors experienced moral distress due to the resource implications of providing futile treatment and the lack of administrative supports for bedside rationing.
CONCLUSIONS: Doctors' ability to distinguish between futility and rationing would be enhanced through regulatory support for explicit rationing and strategies to support doctors' role in rationing at the bedside. Medical policies should address the distinction between resource limitations and futility to promote legitimacy in end-of-life decision making.
La loi Leonetti du 22 avril 2005 a posé un cadre législatif définissant l’obstination déraisonnable, que l’on nommait précédemment l’acharnement thérapeutique. La décision de ce qui est raisonnable ou non dans la mise en place ou la poursuite de traitements soit curatifs soit de maintien artificiel de la vie renvoie à une question éthique sur la fin de vie. C’est en interrogeant cette éthique de fin de vie que l’aide-soignante peut parvenir à vivre au mieux toute décision médicale en lien avec une problématique d’obstination déraisonnable.
Background: Futile or potentially inappropriate care (futile/PIC) for dying inpatients leads to negative outcomes for patients and clinicians. In the setting of rising end-of-life health care costs and increasing physician burnout, it is important to understand the causes of futile/PIC, how it impacts on care and relates to burnout.
Objectives: Examine causes of futile/PIC, determine whether clinicians report compensatory or avoidant behaviors as a result of such care and assess whether these behaviors are associated with burnout.
Design: Online, cross-sectional questionnaire.
Setting/Subjects: Clinicians at two academic hospitals in New York City.
Methods: Respondents were asked the frequency with which they observed or provided futile/PIC and whether they demonstrated compensatory or avoidant behaviors as a result. A validated screen was used to assess burnout.
Measurements: Descriptive statistics, odds ratios, linear regressions.
Results: Surveys were completed by 349 subjects. A majority of clinicians (91.3%) felt they had provided or “possibly” provided futile/PIC in the past six months. The most frequent reason cited for PIC (61.0%) was the insistence of the patient's family. Both witnessing and providing PIC were statistically significantly (p < 0.05) associated with compensatory and avoidant behaviors, but more strongly associated with avoidant behaviors. Provision of PIC increased the likelihood of avoiding the patient's loved ones by a factor of 2.40 (1.82–3.19), avoiding the patient by a factor of 1.83 (1.32–2.55), and avoiding colleagues by a factor of 2.56 (1.57–4.20) (all p < 0.001). Avoiding the patient's loved ones (ß = 0.55, SE = 0.12, p < 0.001), avoiding the patient (ß = 0.38, SE = 0.17; p = 0.03), and avoiding colleagues (ß = 0.78, SE = 0.28; p = 0.01) were significantly associated with burnout.
Conclusions: Futile/PIC, provided or observed, is associated with avoidance of patients, families, and colleagues and those behaviors are associated with burnout.
Do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation decisions (DNACPR) are considered good medical practice for those dying at the end of natural life. They avoid intrusive and inappropriate intervention. Historically, informing patients of these decisions was discretionary to avoid undue distress. Recent legal rulings have altered clinical guidance: disclosure is now all but obligatory. The basis for these legal judgments was respect for the patient's autonomy as an expression of their human rights. Through critical analysis, this paper explores other bioethical considerations and the potential harms if they are ignored. Arguably, disclosure of DNACPR status on its own will do little to improve patient experience. A focus on good communication with those identified as approaching end-of-life will facilitate personalized care. Discussions around DNACPR may still occur, but only if likely to be beneficial and at a patient-appropriate pace (not dictated by the need to activate the decision).
Après trois ans de contentieux, l'affaire Vincent L. a permis de définir les premières limites d'un régime jurisprudentiel de contestation des décisions médicales en matière de fin de vie. Cette jurisprudence devient un outil procédural, dans un contentieux amené à se développer, et dont l'originalité principale était la contestation devant le tribunal administratif de décisions prises par des médecins.
Origine : BDSP. Notice produite par APHPDOC oR0xGrmm. Diffusion soumise à autorisation
Historiquement et étymologiquement, euthanasie n'est pas un mot grec classique. Les grecs avaient forgé un adverbe, un verbe puis un substantif qui signifiaient que la mort était douce ou belle, mais ils ne leur donnaient pas le même sens assez restrictif qu'on lui donne aujourd'hui, avec intervention d'un tiers. Pourtant, l'Antiquité a bien connu le suicide sous la forme d'une euthanasie. Puis une longue période interdit et condamne sans appel le suicide comme l'euthanasie et les religions juives, chrétiennes et musulmanes partagent toutes le respect absolu de la vie humaine, créée par Dieu. Il lui faut attendre le siècle des Lumières pour voir ressurgir le mot deuthanasie et le XIXe siècle pour que la médecine et les mentalités évoluent. Ce n'est qu'au XXe siècle que l'on osera enfin se (re)poser la question du libre choix de la mort pour la personne concernée ou pour son entourage quand elle ne peut plus s'exprimer, mais avec d'infinies précautions que seul le vocabulaire le plus explicite peut traduire. Aujourd'hui, les pays légifèrent, les uns après les autres, sur le sujet de l'euthanasie, le plus souvent sous la pression de l'opinion publique et des interrogations individuelles et sociologiques. Ainsi se fait jour la diversité des législations et des positions religieuses, pour la plupart inchangées depuis des siècles, mais qui témoignent toutes du caractère toujours infiniment délicat de l'euthanasie. Les êtres humains veulent bien mourir, mais de mort douce !
Le 22 avril 2005, était promulgée la loi "relative aux droits des malades et à la fin de vie". Son examen au Sénat avait été tumultueux, mais le débat à l'Assemblée nationale avait été marqué par une grande sérénité et la volonté de dépasser les oppositions partisanes. Cela mérite d'être relevé et apprécié à sa juste valeur, d'autant que le temps d'élaboration de la loi avait été précédé par une période de profonde émotion collective entretenue par l'intense médiatisation d'un fait divers promu au rang de drame national.
INTRODUCTION: Acute neurological illness often results in severe disability. Five-year life expectancy is around 40%; half the survivors become completely dependent on outside help.
OBJECTIVE: Evaluate the symptoms of patients admitted to a Hospital ward with a diagnosis of stroke, subarachnoid hemorrhage or subdural hematoma, and analyze the role of an In-Hospital Palliative Care Support Team.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Retrospective, observational study with a sample consisting of all patients admitted with acute neurological illness and with a guidance request made to the In-Hospital Palliative Care Support Team of a tertiary Hospital, over 5 years (2012-2016).
RESULTS: A total of 66 patients were evaluated, with an age median of 83 years old. Amongst them, there were 41 ischaemic strokes, 12 intracranial bleedings, 12 subdural hematomas, and 5 subarachnoid hemorrhages. The median of delay between admission and guidance request was 14 days. On the first evaluation by the team, the GCS score median was 6/15 and the Palliative Performance Scale (PPS) median 10%. Dysphagia (96.8%) and bronchorrhea (48.4%) were the most prevalent symptoms. A total of 56 patients had a feeding tube (84.8%), 33 had vital sign monitoring (50.0%), 24 were hypocoagulated (36.3%), 25 lacked opioid or anti-muscarinic therapy for symptom control (37,9%); 6 patients retained orotracheal intubation, which was removed. In-hospital mortality was 72.7% (n=48).
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Patients were severely debilitated, in many cases futile interventions persisted, yet several were under-medicated for symptom control. The delay between admission and collaboration request was high. Due to the high morbidity associated with acute neurological illness, palliative care should always be timely provided.
Management of patients with terminal brain disorders can be medically, socially, and ethically complex. Although a growing number of feasible treatment options may exist, there are times when further treatment can no longer meaningfully improve either quality or length of life. Clinicians and patients should discuss goals of care while patients are capable of making their own decisions. However, because such discussions can be challenging, they are often postponed. These discussions are then conducted with patients' health care proxies after patients lose the capacity to make their own decisions. Disagreements may arise when a patient's surrogate desires continued aggressive interventions that are either biologically futile (incapable of producing the intended physiologic result) or potentially inappropriate (potentially capable of producing the patient's intended effect but in conflict with the medical team's ethical principles). This article explores best practices in addressing these types of conflicts in the critical care unit, but these concepts also broadly apply to other sites of care.
Lors d'une mission en Haiti avec Médecins du Monde, le chirurgien qui nous accompagnait pensait avoir diagnostiqué une maladie de Hirschprung chez un bébé de huit mois. Sans possibilité de faire une manométrie rectale ou une biopsie, il conseilla une colostomie. Mais en faitt lorsque les chirurgiens ouvrirent l'abdomen, les masses palpées s'avérèrent être des tumeurs. L'enfant mourut quatre jours plus tard sans avoir reçu aucun traitement.
Est-ce de la médecine palliative ? Oui, dans la mesure où il n'y avait pas de traitement curatif disponible. Non dans la mesure où on a abandonné le patient à ses parents parce qu'on ne pouvait rien faire pour le guérir.
[Début de l'article]
Limiting intensive care is paid increasing attention. In the echoing call for physicians' ethical self-restriction, it is easily overlooked, however, that ethics needs a critical epistemological analysis before it can suffice as an emergency brake to futile treatment. This analysis is provided by the present essay. The authors suggest that the difficulties of resolving moral dilemmas related to limiting intensive care may just be due to the unclarified epistemological status of moral claims. Even if normative ethics cannot prescribe right decisions, but only draw conclusions from defined premises, the premises may or may not be true. Their intertwined descriptive and normative evidence is endorsed in an academic and political discourse. There will necessarily be various demands for rationality in prudent decisions between physicians, their patients and society. These demands are formulated dialogically through critical questions and justified answers. A good argument is the convincing one that, finally and ideally, leads to the absence of open objections. Thus, in the end the rightness of a given decision does not depend on axiomatic moral principles, but is comparative and conditional, as it is given in an omnilateral argument. Neither is it the democratic process of shared decision making that we should evaluate, but rather the argumentative state itself, when we judge the morality of health politics and clinical practice.
BACKGROUND: Acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) is a severe complication of cirrhosis and is defined by organ failure and high rates of short-term mortality. Patients with ACLF are managed with multiorgan support in the intensive care unit (ICU). Currently, it is unclear when this supportive care becomes futile, particularly in patients who are not candidates for liver transplant. The aim of this study was to determine whether the currently available prognostic scores can identify patients with ACLF in whom prolonged ICU care is likely to be futile despite maximal treatment efforts.
METHODS: Data of 202 consecutive patients with ACLF admitted to the ICU at the Royal Free Hospital London between 2005 and 2012 were retrospectively analyzed. Prognostic scores for chronic liver diseases, such as Child-Pugh, Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD), European Foundation for the study of chronic liver failure (CLIF-C) organ failure (OF), and CLIF-C ACLF, were calculated 48 hours after ICU admission and correlated with patient outcome after 28 days.
RESULTS: The CLIF-C ACLF score, compared with all other scores, most accurately predicted 28-day mortality, with an area under the receiver operator characteristic of 0.8 (CLIF-C OF, 0.75; MELD, 0.68; Child-Pugh, 0.66). A CLIF-C ACLF score cutoff = 70 identified patients with a 100% mortality within 28 days. These patients had elevated inflammatory parameters representing a systemic inflammatory response, most often renal failure, compared with patients below this cutoff.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with ACLF and high CLIF-C ACLF score (= 70) after 48 hours of intensive care may reach a threshold of futility for further ongoing intensive support. The best treatment options in this scenario remain to be determined but may include palliative care.
Allowing physicians to write a do not resuscitate (DNR) or do not administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation order after properly informing patients and their families that death would be irreversible offers a more rational and compassionate approach than traditional shared decision making in establishing a DNR status for some hospitalized patients.