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Invited Commentary
January 2016

Critically Ill Patients’ Preferences Regarding Aggressive Medical InterventionsCan We Hear the Patient’s Voice?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA Oncol. 2016;2(1):83-84. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.3613

We are not very good at predicting the future, yet clinicians are often called on by colleagues, as well as patients and families, to estimate survival and the expected outcomes of particular interventions. Even for a practitioner with an extensive fund of knowledge and deep experience, this is a difficult request. The inability to do this creates anxiety for everyone involved, perhaps nowhere more acutely than in an intensive care unit (ICU). Determining the appropriate level or aggressiveness of treatment for critically ill patients with cancer is complex, emotionally charged, and value laden.

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