No resuscitation orders and withdrawal of therapy in French paediatric intensive care units. Groupe Francophone de Réanimation et d'Urgences Pédiatriques

Acta Paediatr. 1998 Jul;87(7):769-73. doi: 10.1080/080352598750013860.


Objective: To determine the incidence of different modes of death in French paediatric intensive care units and to compare patients' characteristics, including a severity of illness score (Paediatric Risk of Mortality: PRISM score) and prior health status (Paediatric Overall Performance Category scale), according to the mode of death.

Design: A 4-month prospective cohort study.

Setting: Nine French multidisciplinary paediatric intensive care units.

Patients: All patients who died in PICUs, except premature babies.

Main results: Among 712 admissions, 13% patients died. Brain death was declared in 20%, failure of cardiopulmonary resuscitation occurred in 26%, do-not-resuscitate status was identified in 27%, and withdrawal of supportive therapy was noted in 27%. The PRISM score and the baseline Paediatric Overall Performance Category were not different between the four groups. Brain-dead patients were older than those in whom a do-not-resuscitate order and withdrawal of therapy were made (median age 81 vs 7 and 4 months).

Conclusions: Decisions to limit or to withdraw supportive care were made for a majority of patients dying in French paediatric intensive care units. Chronic health evaluation and severity of illness index are not sufficient to describe dead-patient populations.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Brain Death
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Critical Care
  • France / epidemiology
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Hospital Mortality*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric / standards
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Life Support Care
  • Medical Futility
  • Prospective Studies
  • Resuscitation Orders*
  • Risk Adjustment
  • Severity of Illness Index