What It Feels Like to Live and Die on Prolonged Life Support

  • Justin Engleka

In recent years, medical technologies and therapies have advanced to the point where the ability to sustain life is unprecedented. In intensive care units (ICUs) around the world, advanced medical therapies are saving lives every day. Many patients who receive intensive care do recover and are able to lead fruitful, productive lives. However, a large majority of patients treated in ICUs are chronically or terminally ill and may not return to their prehospital baselines of function and quality of life.1 A significant percentage of those patients will not even survive their hospitalization. In essence, our own medical advancements have also created a conundrum that requires more attention. Patients, families, and clinicians are facing many ethical, moral, and financial decisions with regard to therapies that prolong life. Until recently, there has not been much attention focused on the decisions that patients make in regard to proceeding with life-prolonging therapies indefinitely. There is, however, a body of literature on patients' preferences and lived experiences who survive their ICU stay.1–4 Due to the fact that we cannot evaluate patients' experiences after they have died, we are left with applying some of those lived experiences from patients who are able to tell about them. This chapter will discuss the experiences of patients who live and die on life support.


Mechanical Ventilation Sleep Quality Life Support Prolonged Mechanical Ventilation Medical Advancement 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin Engleka
    • 1
  1. 1.Director of Professional Services, Cedars Community HospiceMonroevilleUSA

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