Ethics Glossary

Withholding and/or Withdrawing Life-sustaining Treatment 

Foregoing life-sustaining treatment includes both withdrawing and withholding of any life-sustaining treatment (including, but not limited to, mechanical ventilation, bi-level positive airway pressure, vasopressors, oxygen, dialysis, antibiotics, blood transfusions, artificial hydration and nutrition).  The same rationale and justification should be applied to withholding and to withdrawing of life-sustaining treatments. Decisions to forego life-sustaining treatments should be based on medical indications in relation to feasible goals of care and should be consistent with the patient’s advance medical directives and/or other documented expressions of the patient’s values and goals (or lacking such guidance, consistent with the best interests of the patient).