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Open Access

Ethical attitudes of ICU physicians in Hong Kong

  • FHY Yap1 and
  • GM Joynt1
Critical Care20026(Suppl 1):P253

https://doi.org/10.1186/cc1722

Published: 1 March 2002

Keywords

Public HealthDecision MakingEmergency MedicineMedical PracticeEthical Behavior

Introduction

Medical practice in HK is based on Western principles. However, most local doctors and patients are Chinese with a strong Chinese cultural and religious background. This study explores the practice and ethical attitudes of ICU doctors in HK, using a structured questionnaire modified from recent European ethical questionnaires [1,2].

Results

Of 90 questionnaires distributed to 12 ICUs in HK, 65(72%) were returned.

In HK, 99% of physicians would sometimes withhold and 89% sometimes withdraw therapy from patients with no chance of recovery, compared to 93 and 77% in Europe. More respondents in HK involved patients and/or families in decision making (83% compared to 49%, P < 0.001).

Conclusion

Although demographically different, the ethical behavior and attitudes of ICU doctors in HK and Europe are similar. HK doctors involve families more often in the discussion of end-of-life issues.

Table

Demographics

Europe (%)

HK (%)

P

Age

   

   < 40

32

89

< 0.001

   40-49

47

9

 

   50+

21

2

 

Sex

   

   Male:female

6.7:1

1.6:1

< 0.001

Religious background

   

   Yes

78

46

< 0.001

Table

ICU admission limited by bed availability (% of respondents)

Country

Generally (%)

Often (%)

Sometimes (%)

Almost never (%)

P

HK

6

25

51

18

0.5

Belgium [2]

7

34

44

14

 
Table

ICU admission for patients with poor prognosis or poor quality of life (% respondents)

 

No hope of survival for more than a few weeks

Poor QOL according to physician

Poor QOL according to patient

Country

Admitted

Should be admitted

Admitted

Should be admitted

Admitted

Should be admitted

HK

69

45

86

66

81

51

Belgium [2]

63

34

91

75

83

53

Table

Application and discussion of DNR orders (% of respondents)

 

Written DNR orders

Discuss with patient

Discuss with family

Country

Apply

Should apply

Yes

Should

Yes

Should

HK

61

80

52

88

90

92

Belgium [2]

79

92

16

48

80

80

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Prince of Wales Hospital, HKSAR, Shatin, China

References

  1. Intensive Care Med 1990, 16: 256-264. 10.1007/BF01705162Google Scholar
  2. Crit Care Med 1999, 27: 1626-1633. 10.1097/00003246-199908000-00042Google Scholar

Copyright

© Biomed central limited 2001

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