End-of-life practices in a tertiary intensive care unit in Saudi Arabia

Anaesth Intensive Care. 2012 Jan;40(1):137-41. doi: 10.1177/0310057X1204000116.


Our aim was to evaluate end-of-life practices in a tertiary intensive care unit in Saudi Arabia. A prospective observational study was conducted in the medical-surgical intensive care unit of a teaching hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Over the course of the one-year study period, 176 patients died and 77% of these deaths were preceded by end-of-life decisions. Of these, 66% made do-not-resuscitate decisions, 30% decided to withhold life support and 4% withdrew life support. These decisions were made after a median time of four days (Q1 to Q3: 1 to 9) and at least one day before death (Q1 to Q3: 1 to 4). The patients' families or surrogates were informed for 88% of the decisions and all decisions were documented in the patients' medical records. Despite religious and cultural values, more than three-quarters of the patients whose deaths were preceded by end-of-life decisions gave do-not-resuscitate decisions before death. These decisions should be made early in the patients' stay in the intensive care unit.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Resuscitation Orders
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Terminal Care / methods*
  • Time Factors
  • Withholding Treatment / statistics & numerical data