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End-of-life practices in a tertiary intensive care unit in Saudi Arabia

Department of Intensive Care Medicine, King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Our aim was to evaluate end-of-life practices in a tertiary intensive care unit in Saudi Arabia. A prospective observational study was conducted in the medical-surgical intensive care unit of a teaching hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Over the course of the one-year study period, 176 patients died and 77% of these deaths were preceded by end-of-life decisions. Of these, 66% made do-not-resuscitate decisions, 30% decided to withhold life support and 4% withdrew life support. These decisions were made after a median time of four days (Q1 to Q3: 1 to 9) and at least one day before death (Q1 to Q3: 1 to 4). The patients’ families or surrogates were informed for 88% of the decisions and all decisions were documented in the patients’ medical records. Despite religious and cultural values, more than three-quarters of the patients whose deaths were preceded by end-of-life decisions gave do-not-resuscitate decisions before death. These decisions should be made early in the patients’ stay in the intensive care unit.

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