Module 1: Limitation of Medical Treatment


Defining Limitation of Medical Treatment

Medical decisions that may be made to limit the treatments that are, or could be, provided when they will not benefit the patient. A decision to not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation if a patient suffers a cardiopulmonary arrest is one example of a limitation of medical treatment. Similar terms that are in common use include withdrawal or withholding of medical treatment. Decisions to limit medical treatment may avoid prolongation of dying but will not cause a patient’s death. This is quite different from the practice of euthanasia, where death is deliberately and purposefully hastened (ACSQHC, 2015).

Discussions and decision making at end-of-life should include the patient and the multidisciplinary team as essential participants. According to the patient’s wishes and state or territory legislative frameworks, substitute decision-makers and families should be included in discussion and decision making at end-of-life. It is essential that patients and clinicians identify opportunities to discuss end-of¬-life care, to ensure that the end-of-life care delivered is associated with the patient’s preferences and values (ACSQHC, 2015).

Read pages 4-5 of the national consensus statement essential elements for safe high quality end of life care.

Think about the last time you witnessed an end-of-life care discussion. What was positive about the discussion? What was negative about the discussion? What style of communication was exhibited by the person conducting the discussion? What was the outcome of the discussion?

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