Hi, it’s Patrik Hutzel from intensivecarehotline.com with another quick tip for families in intensive care.
So today’s tip is about a question we get all the time, does it matter how a patient dies in intensive care? Now the short version of this is that it matters big time because a lot of end of life situations in intensive care might actually be prevented if you know what questions to ask.
So let’s look at this into more detail. Let’s just say your loved one is on life support. They’re on multiple forms of life support as a matter of fact, like ventilation, inotropes, dialysis and they are in multi-organ failure. Now the minute your loved one is going off life support, the chances are very, very high that your loved one is going to die and “nature is taking its course”. And if you are at peace with that, I actually think that is okay.
I mean, we’re all going to die one day and you know it’s inevitable. But I also believe that the circumstances do matter, especially in intensive care where you can almost manipulate the time of death and because of the measures of life support that you have.
Let’s look at another scenario. Let’s just say a loved one is on life support. Let’s just say they’re on a breathing machine and they will be extubated or being removed from the ventilator and then it’s likely that they might pass away, but timeframes are unknown. It could be minutes, hours, or days. What intensive care teams are often suggesting in those situations is, let’s do an extubation to the removal of the breathing tube. Very often referring to a “one way extubation” or a one way removal of the breathing tube. Hence, if your loved one can’t breathe, they are obviously going to suffocate and are going to die.
Now that sounds horrible and it actually is. So one way to prevent them from suffocating is to give drugs such as midazolam or morphine or fentanyl that basically inhibit any breathing efforts and make death more comfortable. However, there is something that you need to be highly aware of.
At the end of the day, this is actually euthanasia because it hastens death, those drugs are hastening death. And at the end of the day, that’s euthanasia and euthanasia is illegal in most countries and in most States all around the world really.
So number one, ICU teams are often not open and transparent around this, how it is going to occur, and what they’re going to do. And that in essence, the drugs they’re giving when life support is removed, is hastening death and therefore is euthanasia. So it really depends on your beliefs, on your religion, on your culture, whether you are okay with that and therefore it does matter big time how death occurs.
So that is my tip for today. Be very cognizant around how you want end of life to happen if it’s inevitable, but most of the time it’s not necessarily inevitable because ICU can control a lot of things, but you need to ask the right questions.
Like the video, comment down below your questions and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Now, if you have a loved one in intensive care and you need help, go and check out intensivecarehotline.com send an email to [email protected] or call me on one of the numbers on the top of the website at intensivecarehotline.com.
This is Patrik Hutzel from intensivecarehotline.com and I’ll talk to you in a few days.