“Your loved one is on life support”
Updated: Sep 25
Written by Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D. , PWT Contributing Writer
40 years ago when I started in medicine, the term “life support” meant a patient was tenuously alive on a breathing machine with the foregone conclusion they would not survive. Now, critically ill patients have advanced technology improving their chance of leaving the hospital.
As well as mechanical ventilation for breathing, we have:
Medication to maintain blood pressure;external pacemakers;dialysis;plasma exchange (plasmapheresis);bi-level and continuous positive airway pressure (BiPAP and CPAP);intra-aortic balloon pump;bedside handheld imaging, and more.
Still relied on are:
Intravenous fluid for volume expansion;CPR with chest compressions;defibrillators;oxygen delivery;blood and blood product transfusions;antibiotics;total parenteral nutrition (TPN);nasogastric or G-tube nutritional feeding.
We trust well-trained doctors will make decisions adding to the complement of treatments for critically ill patients. The cost of ICU care is expensive, so be aware explanations of your loved one’s medical condition is not skewed by the hospital to save money. If you are told “your loved one is on life support”, it should not be a foregone conclusion they will not survive.
The benefits in 40 years from technology has broadened “life support” allowing patients to heal and return home.
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