Miles J. Edwards, MD; Susan W. Tolle, MD
Edwards MJ, Tolle SW. Disconnecting a Ventilator at the Request of a Patient Who Knows He Will Then Die: The Doctor's Anguish. Ann Intern Med. 1992;117:254-256. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-117-3-254
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1992;117(3):254-256.
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Recently we assisted in withdrawing life support from a patient who had repeatedly asked to have his ventilator disconnected, even after being informed that he would then die. We found little in the medical literature to guide us, especially at the feeling level, so we are sharing our experience with the hope that others will find our emotional responses, reasoning, and procedures useful.
Mr. Larson was a 67-year-old, obese white man. At 23 years of age he developed poliomyelitis and "spent six weeks in an iron lung." His neurologic recovery was virtually complete, and he resumed a reasonably
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