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Medicina (Buenos Aires)

Print version ISSN 0025-7680


GHERARDI, Carlos. Intensive care: The means and the ends. Medicina (B. Aires) [online]. 2011, vol.71, n.6, pp.557-560. ISSN 0025-7680.

Medical technology applied to acute and severely ill patients allowed for the emergence of a differentiated area of care and the development of intensive care units. The means available to replace or assist vital organs' functions determined this crucial advance of high technology medicine in the last forty years. However, actual application of these methods -in this case, life-sustaining therapy- is not free from the technological imperative influencing all our contemporary culture. This pervasive influence adversely affects the chances to permanently remember the ends of medicine, which are not to avoid death or to consider life as the supreme value irrespectively of the patients' preferences. Final decisions in irreversible situations, where only a life in vegetative condition is possible, are to be taken by doctors and family members.

Keywords : Intensive care; Withholding and withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy; Medical technology; Life-sustaining therapy and death.

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