Withholding and withdrawal from dialysis: what we know about how our patients die

Semin Dial. May-Jun 2007;20(3):195-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-139X.2007.00273.x.


Withholding and withdrawal of dialysis has been a reality since dialysis was invented. Only in the past 20 years has it been formally studied, and we still have a great deal to learn. The nephrology community has slowly come to accept that, for some of our patients, not having dialysis is a better option than continuing or initiating therapy. The principles of palliative care throughout the disease trajectory and hospice care at end of life are germane to this population due to its high symptom burden and mortality rate. We review what is currently known concerning patients who choose to withhold or withdraw from dialysis, and the current barriers (and solutions) to providing them with optimal palliative care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Death
  • Culture
  • Decision Making
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / complications*
  • Kidney Diseases / therapy*
  • Pain, Intractable / etiology
  • Pain, Intractable / psychology
  • Palliative Care
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Withholding Treatment*