Risks And Benefits Of Resuscitative Efforts

When considering offering or withholding resuscitative efforts, risks and benefits of resuscitative efforts should be carefully considered. The goal of resuscitative efforts is to restore circulation, and life to the patient. Other less tangible benefits may include such entities as resolution of guilt of the survivors, and the additional time for acceptance of bad news for survivors.

However, often resuscitative measures are undertaken in clinical situations in which physiologic survival is very unlikely. In some situations, there is a substantial risk that, if circulation is restored, significant anoxic brain injury will result, possibly resulting in impairment of quality of life (dementia, persistent vegetative state, or other cognitive impairments). Additionally, substantial resources (supply costs, as well as personnel) are often invested in this clinical setting of low likelihood of benefit, while the care of many other patients is delayed (distributive justice). Another consideration for limiting resuscitative efforts is the potentially increased human resources that could be available for family counseling, rather than investing such resources in resuscitative efforts unlikely to be successful.

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