Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Crit Care. 2004 Jul;13(4):328-34.

Documentation on withdrawal of life support in adult patients in the intensive care unit.

Author information

  • 1University of Wisconsin, School of Nursing, Madison, Wis, USA.

Erratum in

  • Am J Crit Care. 2004 Sep;13(5):370.



Patients' charts have been a source of data for retrospective studies of the quality of end-of-life care. In the intensive care unit, most patients die after withdrawal of life support. Chart reviews of this process could be used not only to assess the quality of documentation but also to provide information for quality improvement and research.


To assess the documentation of end-of-life care of patients and their families by care providers in the intensive care unit.


Charts of 50 adult patients who died in the intensive care unit at a large midwestern hospital after initiation of withdrawal of life support (primarily mechanical ventilation) were reviewed. A form developed for the study was used for data collection.


The initiation of the decision making for withdrawal was documented in all 50 charts. Sixteen charts (32%) had no information on advance directives. Eight charts (16%) had no documentation on resuscitation status. About two thirds of the charts documented nurses' participation during the withdrawal process; only one tenth documented physicians' participation. A total of 13 charts (26%) had no information on the time of initiation of the withdrawal process, and 11 (22%) had no documentation of medications administered for withdrawal. Thirty-seven charts (74%) had information on whether the patient was or was not extubated during withdrawal.


Comprehensive documentation of end-of-life care is lacking.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk