Phua J, Joynt GM, Nishimura M, Deng Y, Myatra SN, Chan YH, Binh NG, Tan CC, Faruq MO, Arabi YM, Wahjuprajitno B, Liu SF, Hashemian SM, Kashif W, Staworn D, Palo JE, Koh Y.; Intensive Care Med. 2016 Apr 12. [Epub ahead of print]
PURPOSE: To compare the attitudes of physicians towards withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatments in intensive care units (ICUs) in low-middle-income Asian countries and regions with those in high-income ones, and to explore differences in the role of families and surrogates, legal risks, and financial considerations between these countries and regions.
METHODS: Questionnaire study conducted in May-December 2012 on 847 physicians from 255 ICUs in 10 low-middle-income countries and regions according to the World Bank's classification, and 618 physicians from 211 ICUs in six high-income countries and regions.
RESULTS: After we accounted for personal, ICU, and hospital characteristics on multivariable analyses using generalised linear mixed models, physicians from low-middle-income countries and regions were less likely to limit cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, vasopressors and inotropes, tracheostomy and haemodialysis than those from high-income countries and regions. They were more likely to involve families in end-of-life care discussions and to perceive legal risks with limitation of life-sustaining treatments and do-not-resuscitate orders. Nonetheless, they were also more likely to accede to families' requests to withdraw life-sustaining treatments in a patient with an otherwise reasonable chance of survival on financial grounds in a case scenario (adjusted odds ratio 5.05, 95 % confidence interval 2.69-9.51, P < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Significant differences in ICU physicians' self-reported practice of limiting life-sustaining treatments, the role of families and surrogates, perception of legal risks and financial considerations exist between low-middle-income and high-income Asian countries and regions.