The technology available in critical care units is undeniably powerful in its ability to sustain life and restore health. Thanks to the development of life-support technology and the concentration of this technology in critical care units, healthcare providers are able to help more people who are far along in the progression of life-threatening diseases. Understandably, these advances in technology offering the possibility of effective treatment to more people have created a greater demand for critical care services, and therefore the need for critical care beds is increasing at a seemingly unstoppable pace.

The technological power of critical care makes it difficult to navigate the boundaries of possibility. It is still common for quandaries to develop regarding when life support should be limited or withdrawn. The patient’s family wants everything possible done and does not want to be perceived as...

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