Withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment

Am Fam Physician. 2000 Oct 1;62(7):1555-60, 1562, 1564.


Withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining therapies is ethical and medically appropriate in some circumstances. This article summarizes the American Medical Association's Education for Physicians on End-of-life Care (EPEC) curriculum module on withholding or withdrawing therapy. Before reviewing specific treatment preferences, it is useful to ask patients about their understanding of the illness and to discuss their values and general goals of care. Family physicians should feel free to provide specific advice to patients and families struggling with these decisions. Patients with decision-making capacity can opt to forego any medical intervention, including artificial nutrition/hydration and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation*
  • Decision Making
  • Enteral Nutrition*
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Fluid Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Malpractice
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Resuscitation Orders
  • Teaching Materials
  • Treatment Refusal*
  • United States