Moral Issue Question... - page 2

Ok, not sure where to put this question, so please bear with me if it is in the wrong section. I just kinda want to see everyones opinion about this situation. I am not in Nursing School yet but I am... Read More

  1. by   Ophelia78
    The previous posters are correct- it is a decision made between the family, physician, and the ethics committee, if involved. Patients who have treatment withdrawn are dead already or dying. There is only so much you can do to keep a dying person alive. We have a few tools in our arsenal, but it always isn't enough. We'll have patients in the ICU whose families just can't let the dying process happen. We'll have the patient vented, on several pressers, dropping massive amounts of blood products in them. They still die- it just takes longer and they suffer more. Sometimes they'll die and vent will keep banging away- we can't turn it off until the doc declares them. I can't say those deaths look peaceful. For others, the family will say enough is enough. The doc will order to stop pressers, extubate the patient, and provide comfort care. We can give oxygen. Often there'll be a morphine drip- dose prescribed by the doc. I'll turn off the pressers and hang the drip. Respiratory will usually extubate. Sometimes the patient will last a few minutes and sometimes a few hours. I've never seen a death that wasn't peaceful this way.

    If you weren't comfortable doing this your coworkers should help you, maybe juggle the assignments a bit. Just remember, the patients aren't being killed by us. The disease state is killing them. We are just ensuring they aren't being tortured as it does so.

    I can say with 100% certainty that I would rather have treatment withdrawn than suffer for days or weeks with my skin breaking down, constant needlesticks, alarms going off, being turned, a tube in every orifice, and suffering without being able to communicate my pain.
  2. by   TazziRN
    Preacher's Wife, I'm curious: how do you feel about organ donation? Not trying to stir the pot, just trying to bring another thought into this.
  3. by   Thepreacherswife
    Morning Tazzi!
    I am an organ donor myself. I have the little pink sticker on my driver's liscense. When I am dead and gone I won't need those organs so if someone who is dying can use them because we are a match then that's awesome!

    On another note, I said to ICU-20 in my last post it wasnt a moral question, I take that back, I meant to say the main part of my question was not about that... Just what to do about the situation. LOL So I wanted to take that back... Tazzi I am interested to see how organ donation ties in with this!
  4. by   TazziRN
    Many organs cannot be donated once the body has been off life support, like the heart and lungs, kidneys and liver. In order to use those organs, death has to be declared while the patient is still on the vent and medications to keep the blood pressures up. If you do not believe that a patient is dead until he stops breathing on his own, how do you justify using organs for donation?
  5. by   Thepreacherswife
    Hmmmm.. I am not following you. Of course you can use a person's organs if they die, regaurdless of how. They can airlift a heart to the recipient from a donor who just died say in a car accident. They can keep the heart pumping with a machine or put it on ice. Many organs can be used regaudless of how one dies. I think what you are trying to say is that organs can't be used from a pt body who dies when they are taken off life support? If this is what you are saying where are some facts on this?...
  6. by   colleennurse
    Quote from Thepreacherswife
    Hmmmm.. I am not following you. Of course you can use a person's organs if they die, regaurdless of how. They can airlift a heart to the recipient from a donor who just died say in a car accident. They can keep the heart pumping with a machine or put it on ice. Many organs can be used regaudless of how one dies. I think what you are trying to say is that organs can't be used from a pt body who dies when they are taken off life support? If this is what you are saying where are some facts on this?...
    Preachers Wife, I think what Tazzi is trying to say is that in order to use someones organs that is a donor that person has to be kept alive on life support until they are ready to harvest whatever organs they can. You cannot use organs from someone that has been deceased for a while because they are no good. There is only a certain amount of time they have to use the organ once it has been harvested. Blood (which contains oxygen) has to be perfusing the organs in order to keep the organ viable. Someone please correct me if I am wrong !!
  7. by   TazziRN
    You're right, Colleen, that's what I was getting at. Death is declared while the pt is still vented and pressored. If PW (I am not attacking, am pointing out) has a problem with stopping life support, then how can organs be harvested? In a multi-organ harvest the heart is the last perfusion-dependent organ to be removed because the other organs need perfusion for as long as possible, so by PW's definition of death, the pt is not yet dead.
  8. by   Thepreacherswife
    Interesting... I had never known this or thought about this. Maybe I should change my mind on organ donations. Is it possible for one to choose(like myself) to be an organ donor with stipulations? If I was ever on a ventilator obviously I would not want someone (the DR. ) to say "she's dead ok take out her organs because she is a donor."
    However If I am killed in a car wreck and my chances of survival are ABSOLUTELY zero (because I am dead) then of course have at my organs!
    LOL this is why I love this site, so thought provoking! :spin:
  9. by   TazziRN
    Doctors to not do that, and it is not a unilateral decision. Tests are run to check for brain function and at least two physicians have to concur independently that the pt is brain dead.

    The thoracic organs cannot be used after pulse and respirations have ceased, but skin, bone, and corneas (and other things, not just those) can. You can stipulate what you want to be used.

    Here's a personal example for you: my brother was in a coma, on a vent, after a car accident. On day 7 he had massive, sudden swelling in his brain and suffered brain death. This happened in the morning. By the time tests were run to check for brain function and death was determined, it was after 5 that evening.

    Organ harvesting teams do nothing until death has been pronounced, and then it can take hours to find matching recipients and get the harvesting teams there. My brother's organs were not harvested until early the next morning. During all that time, if he had shown any signs of life, there would have been time for someone to see it. The organ donor is not left alone until the team is ready for harvest, the harvesting coordinator is doing one to one care with the donor.

    What I'm trying to get at is that you are asking about the morals and ethics of being the nurse involved when life support is stopped, yet you believe in organ donation. The two do not go hand in hand. I'm just trying to get you to think.
    Last edit by TazziRN on Apr 5, '07
  10. by   Thepreacherswife
    Oh Contraire,
    I beleive they can go hand in hand when the stipulations are followed. My example was I only want my organs taken if I am dead from being involved in a car accident. I am talking an accident where I am pronounced DOA. (Which this just happened to a girl I went to HS with Monday-terrible!, now her 6 yr. old nephew is in a coma )If I am ever one a ventialtor then for get it, I want no part in it (organ donation). As fas as doctors "determining" someone is deaceased that's where we disagree. I do still beleive the two can go hand in hand. Just certain situations. I don't see how taking someone off a vent and giving organs from my dead body (that has not been on a vent) have the same principals involved. :studyowl:
    I am truly sorry about your brother. That must have been a terrible thing to go through. My heart goes out to you and your family.
  11. by   TazziRN
    No, no, what I mean is, the thoracic organs canNOT be used is perfusion stopped before harvesting. If you have stipulations, like "Do not take my thoracic organs", great. If you want your heart or lungs or kidneys to be used, then you have to be vented and pressored. If you are DOA then those organs cannot be used, but other things can, like skin and bone and corneas. If you do NOT want to be vented and pressored pending donation then you need to state that on your donor card.

    I'm not sure what you mean about the doctors determining death.

    As for being on the vent, someone who is pronounced dead is never placed on the vent because he is an organ donor. Someone that we know is going to die because of the injuries is never vented on the chance the family might want to donate. The vent happens when there is a chance at life, to support the body until it can heal. Very often it goes the other way instead and the injuries are so severe that the body cannot heal. That's when donation is considered.

    I hope this is more clear.
  12. by   Thepreacherswife
    Yes, this helps and is more took me long enough!
    What I meant was I personally beleive (not trying to force my beliefs on anyone here) is that no matter how many doctors say this person is dead that there is a chance G-d will let them live. Just my opinion of course. Which is where my original question came in about asking another RN to relieve me while pt is taken off vent.
    I just read this article and it so clear now. I am not Catholic so please disreguard that at the top of this article.
    I completely understand. You understood how I was thinking, I don't beleive in this at all because the doctors are killing you (IMO) to take your organs, some pt even while they still have a heart beat!
    Tazzi you changed my mind! I have never thought of donations from this aspect with these facts! THANK YOU!
    Last edit by Thepreacherswife on Apr 5, '07 : Reason: left out something
  13. by   caroladybelle

    It relies on your beliefs about "brain" death.

    The vast majority of USA MDs accept the definition of death as "brain" death. While organs can continue to perfuse, especially with vent support, for short periods after "brain" death occurs...the patient is still dead. That which made the patient "human" and that could enable them to exist as a functioning being is gone from the brain dead individual. They are not going to recover, therefore it is not "killing" anyone to remove them from the vent. They are not going to be rising from the dead, barring G-d creating a miracle - (and if G-d chooses a to do a miracle, I think that will occur before the transplant team appears at the site). G-d creates miracles where he chooses and nothing that we do could do would stop it.

    There are cases of brain dead individuals living on vents for short periods of time. But they are not recoverable and eventially die. G-d did not intend for us to exist that way and body systems break down.

    Brain death is NOT the same as persistant vegetative states or comas. Brain death is not reversible, curable or repairable.

    Thoracic organs (hearts) must be transplanted from a physically living (or perfused) body to a living host in 4-6 hours MAXIMUM. Given the amount of time that it takes to bring the body from the accident/locale, determine death, determine organ viability, tissue type, check for disease status, get permit to harvest from the next of kin, locate recipient/MDs and prep them......this is not a large window of time. Thus most lungs/hearts come from vented patients that brain death is verified but the bodily systems are perfused until the recipient is identified and everything is set for as little transfer time as possible, before "physiological" death occurs with discontinuation of the vent.

    Some countries do not accept "brain" death as death. Japan, for one, does almost no heart transplants. One was done in the 1960's and then they were banned, until 1997. They are still rare, there.
    Last edit by caroladybelle on Apr 6, '07