The pressure to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining therapy from critically ill patients in the United States

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2007 Jun 1;175(11):1104-8. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200609-1397CP. Epub 2007 Mar 22.


Physicians and nurses sometimes exert pressure on the families of critically ill patients to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining therapy from them. This pressure may stem from prognostic, professional, social, and economic factors. Although the pressure to limit life support may be appropriate in some circumstances, in others it is not justified. The pressure also may damage communications and cause resentment. If communications cannot be improved, and if the pressure cannot be relieved, a due process approach to conflict resolution that involves other parties may be required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Advance Directives / psychology
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Critical Illness / psychology
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Dissent and Disputes*
  • Humans
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Terminal Care / psychology
  • Terminal Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • Withholding Treatment / statistics & numerical data*