February 1984

Intravenous Support in Dying Patients

Arch Intern Med. 1984;144(2):420. doi:10.1001/archinte.1984.00350140254048

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To the Editor.  —Those of us who care for the terminally ill have often debated the question of intravenous (IV) fluid replacement, so the article by Micetich et al1 in the May Archives was especially relevant. The authors thoughtfully delineated their concerns about prolonging life v postponing death and about the use of available technology simply because "it's there."The discussion on whose needs IV therapy actually meets (patient, family, or caregivers) was particularly apropos. Some physicians feel helpless without the opportunity for daily medical decision making. Close observation and symptom management are still necessary to ensure the dying person's comfort, but these tasks may fall more to family members or nurses than to the attending physician. The cessation of medical intervention is not the same as abandoning the patient; palliative care is very active care.However, one important misconception presented in the article is that IV fluids are

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