When can you do nothing more?

Discussion in 'Professionally Qualified, RAMC and QARANC' started by stab23, Dec 8, 2009.

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  1. There was an interview on the BBC last night with a grieving mother, who said that the medical team at Selly Oak had told her that there was nothing more they could do for her son, and so they let her spend two and a half hours with him before he (presumably) passed away.

    Leaving aside the individual human tragedy here, I was somewhat surprised at this, as I always thought that medical teams would fight until the last moment to save somebody, even though there was little hope.

    What sort of injuries would come into this category?
  2. The body can start to shut down with major and irreversible organ function loss. This can happen with any injury and illness, the body reaches the point where it shuts down. When that point is reached then the patient is made as comfortable and pain-free as possible and allowed to die with dignity. Medical teams will fight tooth and nail to keep someone alive but sometimes even the best of efforts are in vain.
  3. Many many major problems - such as major organ failure, massive rip roaring septic infections to name but a couple. Not forgetting the possibility of major traumatic internal and external injuries - or massive burns either

    Its not an easy decision to make (all done with the best interests of the patient in mind - all based on clinical evidence) and all made more difficult due to being part of the 'forces family' as its never easy loosing one of your own.

    many ethical arguments too - quality of life versus quantity.

    God rest his poor soul
  4. Fang_Farrier

    Fang_Farrier LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    This does not just happen at Selly Oak but at many hospitals every day. For people with terminal genetic conditions, cancers, illnesses, old age, trauma, to name the main causes.

    It's never an easy decision to make whether the patient is 90 seconds old or 90 years old.
  5. Seemed pretty easy for the consultants, registrars, GPs and, I kid you not, the hospital receptionist who never tired of reminding my missus that she didn't need to have any more treatment if she didn't want to.
  6. Morphine ++ and send me off comfortably (sorry if that appears distasteful)
  7. I think that is what most of us want when the time comes gimpy.
  8. Any injury which causes brain stem death. Here, the brain has ceased to function to the extent that the patient will never regain consciousness and spontaneous breathing is no longer possible. The only thing keeping the body alive is mechanical ventilation. If it gets to this stage then there is nothing else that can be done. The patient is essentially dead. This sounds like the scenario you describe.

    While medical science is a fantastic thing, sometimes the body just can't take any more. The medical teams will have certainly fought to keep this person alive for as long as possible, but in the end if the only thing keeping the body going is a ventilator and the brain has given up then that's it.

    Sad but unfortunately true.