Summary: GUIDELINE FOR THE WITHDRAWAL OF
MECHANICAL VENTILATION/LIFE SUPPORT
OF ADULTS USING TERMINAL WEANING
PURPOSE: To promote physical and emotional comfort and support for the adult patient and family
when the decision has been made to withdraw mechanical ventilation/life support. For more
information see policy #191 Forgoing Treatment.
1. The decision to withdraw mechanical ventilation/life support will be a decision made by the patient
and/or appropriate surrogate decision-maker(s) in conjunction with the health care team. The organ
procurement agency will be contacted by the clinician at this point, if not already done so
2. The requesting physician must enter an order in MIS/patient's record and contact all appropriate
health care personnel (inc. nurse, respiratory therapist).
3. It should be determined which members of the family/significant others wish to be present for the
withdrawal. Offer to call the chaplain and be prepared to spend time with the family explaining the
procedure and providing support.
4. Provide appropriate comfort measures for patient and family such as: keeping patient clean using
suction as needed and dark towels if there is bleeding; encouraging family to touch the patient; removing
restraints and unnecessary medical equipment;
5. Stop the neuromuscular blocking agents, if they are in use. Respiratory effort is usually the first sign
that neuromuscular blocking agent is gone, you may need to adjust the sensitivity and/or decrease the