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Editor's Correspondence
February 24, 2003

Medical Treatment of Acute Illnesses in End-Stage Dementia

Arch Intern Med. 2003;163(4):496-497. doi:10.1001/archinte.163.4.496

Data are presently scarce regarding the prognosis of severely demented patients who develop an acute illness. In general, it is perceived that survival in end-stage dementia following acute illness is very poor. Along this line, a recent survey published in the ARCHIVES on the attitude of Netherland physicians indicates that antibiotic treatment is commonly withheld in severely demented patients affected by pneumonia.1 Similarly, Morrison and Sia2 concluded that given the limited life expectancy of patients with end-stage dementia following acute illnesses and the burdens associated with their treatment, increased attention should be focused on palliation of symptoms and enhancement of comfort rather than on the application of burdensome interventions directed at life prolongation.

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