Publication Date



American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine


Background: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has extended the survivability of critically ill patients beyond their unsupported prognosis and has widened the timeframe for making an informed decision about the goal of care. However, an extended time window for survival does not necessarily translate into a better outcome and the sustaining treatment is ultimately withdrawn in many patients. Emerging evidence has implicated the determining role of palliative care consult (PCC) in direction of the care that critically ill patients receive. Objective: To evaluate the impact of PCC in withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment (WOLST) among critically ill patients, who were placed on venovenous ECMO (VV-ECMO) at the intensive care unit (ICU) of a tertiary care hospital. Methods: In a retrospective observational study, electronic medical records of 750 patients admitted to the ICU of our hospital between January 1, 2015, and October 31, 2021, were reviewed. Data was collected for patients on VV-ECMO, for whom WOLST was withdrawn during the ICU stay. Clinical characteristics and the underlying reasons for WOLST were compared between those who received PCC (PCC group) and those who did not (non-PCC group). Results: A total of 95 patients were included in our analysis, 63 in the PCC group and 32 in the non-PCC group. The average age of the study population was 48.8 ± 12.6 years, and 64.2% were male. There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in terms of demographics or clinical characteristics at the time of ICU admission. The average duration of ICU stay and VV-ECMO were 14.1 ± 19.9 days and 9.4 ± 16.6 days, respectively. The number of PCC visits was correlated with the length of ICU stay. The average duration of ICU stay (40.3 ± 33.2 days vs 27.8 ± 19.3 days, P = .05) and ECMO treatment (31.9 ± 27 days vs 18.6 ± 16.1 days, P = .01) were significantly longer in patients receiving PCC than those not receiving PCC. However, the frequency of life sustaining measures or the underlying reasons for WOLST did not significantly differ between the two groups (P > .05). Conclusion: Among ICU patients requiring ECMO support, longer duration of ICU stay and treatment with a higher number of life-sustaining measures seemed to be correlated with the number of PCC visits. The underlying reasons for WOLST seem not to be affected by PCC.


Intensive Care Unit, ICU, ECMO, Prognosis, Mortality, Life-sustaining Treatment, Extracorporeal



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