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Results of an ethical questionnaire distributed to members of the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society

Three hundred and sixty-seven (67%) of questionnaires on ethical issues distributed to members of the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society were returned and included for analysis. The questionnaire was similar to a questionnaire that had been distributed to members of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine, but adapted and augmented for local use, and provides a useful comparison of how issues are considered in Australasia. Intensive Care beds are a limited resource, and availability restricts admissions. Nonetheless, 76% of respondents admitted patients with a poor prognosis for survival. There was high (82%) concordance of what was felt should be done and what was done in clinical scenarios. Respondents considered that they provided high information to patients, including in the event of iatrogenic complication. In terms of end-of-life decisions, 35% of respondents wrote that they would involve the family in discussions (not an option available for selection): this appeared to be a pragmatic approach to dealing with relatives. Withdrawal of treatment was considered to be different to withholding treatment by 43% of respondents. 34% of respondents would change a do-not-resuscitate order that had been previously instituted. 15% of respondents considered that an Ethics Consultant would assist in their practice, with 95% supporting the inclusion of ethics teaching during medical training.

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McRae, R. Results of an ethical questionnaire distributed to members of the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society. Crit Care 3, P267 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1186/cc640

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Keywords

  • Public Health
  • Poor Prognosis
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Ethical Issue
  • Limited Resource