Introduction

The principal task of intensive care medicine is to save lives. This is frequently constrained in practice by borderline situations which may entail withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining measures. It is generally accepted that there is no difference ethically between primary withholding and secondary withdrawal of life-supporting treatments, including mechanical ventilation, hemodialysis, or vasoactive drug administration ( Americ.aD,., ..T.horacic^ .Society., ..Bjo.e.tbj.cs..., Task ...Force 1991;

World Federationf ). However, European physicians sometimes have more difficulties in withdrawing life-sustaining therapy that has already been started than in withholding it initially.

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