Introduction: Withholding life-sustaining treatments (WHLST) and withdrawing life-sustaining treatments (WDLST) occur in most intensive care units (ICUs) around the world to varying degrees. Methods: Speakers from invited faculty of the World Federation of Societies of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine Congress in 2013 with an interest in ethics were approached to participate in an ethics round table. Participants were asked if they agreed with the statement "There is no moral difference between withholding and withdrawing a mechanical ventilator." Differences between WHLST and WDLST were discussed. Official statements relating to WHLST and WDLST from intensive care societies, professional bodies, and government statements were sourced, documented, and compared. Results: Sixteen respondents stated that there was no moral difference between withholding or withdrawing a mechanical ventilator, 2 were neutral, and 4 stated that there was a difference. Most ethicists and medical organizations state that there is no moral difference between WHLST and WDLST. A review of guidelines noted that all but 1 of 29 considered WHLST and WDLST as ethically or legally equivalent. Conclusions: Most respondents, practicing intensivists, stated that there is no difference between WHLST and WDLST, supporting most ethicists and professional organizations. A minority of physicians still do not accept their equivalency.

Ethics, Law, Life-sustaining treatments, Withdrawing, Withholding
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrc.2014.06.022, hdl.handle.net/1765/81979
Journal of Critical Care: improving patient care by integrating critical care systems knowledge into practice behavior
Department of Intensive Care

Sprung, C.L, Paruk, F, Kissoon, N, Hartog, C.S, Lipman, J, Du, B, … Feldman, C.L. (2014). The Durban World Congress Ethics Round Table Conference Report: I. Differences between withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatments. Journal of Critical Care: improving patient care by integrating critical care systems knowledge into practice behavior, 29(6), 890–895. doi:10.1016/j.jcrc.2014.06.022