Food & Drink6 mins ago
How long after switching off life support will a patient last before dying?
My 41 year old nephew, who ive always been very close to, has been in intensive care for a few weeks. He's spina bifida and was blue lighted to hospital with bleeding kidneys and other issues were discovered while there. he's had ganerine, a spot on his liver was discovered, he's had a trachonomony etc. Numerous scans and he's unconcious. Doctors have now informed his mum (my sister) that theres nothing left that they can do and will be switching off his life support.
Obviously we are all devestated.
I know it sounds morbid but im curious as to how quick a patient passes away after life support is withdrawn?
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Sorry to hear his illness has come to this.
Very difficult to answer. If he is on a ventilator it will depend on what his own respiratory function/effort when the machine is disconnected. If he is being given medication it will depend on how dependant his body is for them. I have taken care of patients who have died very quickly or after a week or more after removal of support. The doctors might be able to give you some indication of how soon death will occur but there is no foolproof way of knowing.
My condolences to you and his family at this very sad time. I hope you have support in place for your own health during this time
Experienced this many times working in ITU, if they are on a lot of circulatory support e.g high doses of adrenaline or noradrenaline it can be quite quick maybe 15-30 minutes if that is stopped at the same time, if the respiratory centre of the brain is damaged so they can't breathe unaided it will be minutes. If they can breathe a bit but not enough it can take a fair bit longer,maybe an hour or so. The medical and nursing staff will have a pretty good idea based on what support is currently in place.
But the important thing is be with the person not the monitor..... We used to dim them so the families didn't sit there staring at a screen waiting for a flat line. ( nurses watched the master screen at the nurses station) It saved confusion when the heart stopped pumping but there were a few random electrical effects looking like heartbeats.