Intensify, resuscitate or palliate: decision making in the critically ill patient with haematological malignancy

Blood Rev. 2010 Jan;24(1):17-25. doi: 10.1016/j.blre.2009.10.002. Epub 2009 Nov 13.


The survival prospects of critically ill patients with haematological malignancy (HM) are reviewed, as are the variables which might influence decisions about the limitation of life sustaining therapies (LLST). Approximately 40% of patients with HM admitted to ICU survive to hospital discharge and a broad admission policy is warranted. Short term survival is predicted by the severity of the underlying physiological disturbance rather than cancer specific characteristics, although the prognostic importance of neutropenia and prior stem cell transplantation remains to be clarified. Survival to hospital discharge in cancer patients following cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is only 6-8%. Poor performance status and progressive deterioration despite ICU support appear to predict worse outcome. Patients should be provided with realistic information in order to make an informed decision about CPR. Decisions about LLST must be individualised. Consideration should be given to the patient's wishes and prognosis, the immediate clinical circumstances and their potential reversibility.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • Critical Illness
  • Decision Making
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Palliative Care
  • Prognosis