Limiting life-sustaining treatment in German intensive care units: a multiprofessional survey

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Submitted by National Center... on Mar 14, 2014 - 11:15am CDT


Deciding about the limitation of life-sustaining treatment (LST) is a major challenge for intensive care medicine. The aim of the study was to investigate the practices and perspectives of German intensive care nurses and physicians on limiting LST.


We conducted an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire survey among the 268 nurses and 95 physicians on all 10 intensive care units of the Munich University Hospital, Germany.


The response rate was 53%. Of all respondents, 91% reported being confronted with the topic at least once a month. Although all reported limiting cardiopulmonary resuscitation, almost no one reported limiting artificial hydration. Half of nurses and junior physicians felt uncertain about the decision-making process. Junior physicians were most dissatisfied with their training for this task and expressed the highest fear of litigation. Nurses were less satisfied than physicians with the communication process. Both nurses and relatives were not routinely involved in decision making. There is no standardized documentation practice, and many notes are not readily accessible to nurses.


Limiting LST is common in German intensive care units. The major shortcomings are team communication, communication with the patient's family, and documentation of the decision-making process.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PubMed URL:

Jox, Ralf J
Krebs, Mirjam
Fegg, Martin
Reiter-Theil, Stella
Frey, Lorenz
Eisenmenger, Wolfgang
Borasio, Gian Domenico
Journal Citation: 
Journal of Critical Care. 25(3):413-9, 2010 Sep.