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Patients ‘frequently refused’ intensive care treatment

Published on 25/02/2005

25 February 2005

BRUSSELS – Two leading doctors have claimed that patients are regularly refused access to intensive care in Belgian hospitals.

In a report cited by La Derniere Heure newspaper, the doctors said the problem was “a daily reality”.

“For some categories of patients, that decision is linked to a significant increase in mortality,” the pair added.

Dr Sottiaux, who works at the Notre-Dame clinic in Gosselies, and Dr Merlot, from the university hospital Erasme in Brussels, both have experience of the system as they work on intensive care wards.

They said often a decision to turn away a patient was influenced by problems such as a shortage of beds, a lack of staff or equipment and even by the age of a doctor and his or her medical specialty.

Many patients refused included those who were elderly, unable to look after themselves, suffering from a cancer with secondary tumours and who had a high possibility of dying within a year.

The rate of admission refusals on intensive care wards varies from 20 to 60 percent, the report argued.

“The lack of space in intensive care units creates unpleasant situations, such as patients being discharged from the unit too early and transferrals during the night within the hospital or between two establishments,” stated the doctors.

They believe patients are two or three times more likely to die after such a situation.

“Every intensive care unit must develop, together with the different hospital services, a strategy and procedures for admission and stays,” argued the doctors.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news