The frequency of withholding or withdrawing life-prolonging treatment at the end of a patient’s life varied greatly among six European countries, according to an article in the February 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
"Modern medicine provides unprecedented opportunities in diagnostics and treatment to save and sustain life," according to background information in the article. However, in certain situations at the end of a patient’s life, physicians may refrain from using all possible treatments to prolong life.
Georg Bosshard, M.D., M.A.E., from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and colleagues studied different types of treatment withheld or withdrawn from patients in six European countries between June 2001 and February 2002. Physicians were sent questionnaires about their decision-making process of the patients’ treatment. They were asked whether or not they withheld or withdrew medical treatment and if so, what kind of treatment.
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