Article Abstract

Ethical aspects of admission or non-admission to the intensive care unit

Authors: Jean-Philippe Rigaud, Mikhael Giabicani, Marion Beuzelin, Antoine Marchalot, Fiona Ecarnot, Jean-Pierre Quenot


The question of admission and non-admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) raises several ethical questions. There is a fine line between the risk of loss-of-opportunity for the patient in case of non-admission, and the risk of unreasonable therapeutic obstinacy, in case of unjustified admission. Similar difficulties arise in decisions regarding re-admission or non-re-admission, with the sole difference that the intensivists already know the patient and his/her medical history. This information can help inform the decision when re-admission is being considered. Intensive, i.e., life-sustaining care should be implemented after shared reflection involving the caregivers, the patient and the family, and the same applies for non-implementation of these same therapies. Anticipating admission or non-admission to the ICU in case of acute organ failure, or in case of potential deterioration represents a major challenge for our discipline in the coming years.