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Life Support
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What is the Life Support Option?

Life support aims to lengthen life while trying to cure illness. Life support is often provided in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) but some forms are also available in other hospital wards or at home. The healthcare team can explain what kinds of life support might be helpful in different situations. It can include the use of a breathing machine as well as drugs and procedures to maintain body functions and minimize suffering. The patient is usually kept asleep. Despite the healthcare team’s best efforts, the patient on life support may still die. In general, this care is very expensive; but it may be covered by your health insurance. In Canada, there is no financial cost to a patient or their family for receiving life support in hospital, rather the cost is covered by the public healthcare system through government budgets (taxes).

At this time, you or your family may already be using some kind of life support. Even so, your healthcare team wants to make sure that life support is a treatment that you want.

Reasons to choose Life Support:

  • The patient has a better chance of staying alive longer.
  • This may give family members from far away enough time to visit the patient.
  • Some patients may get better during this time.

Reasons to avoid Life Support:

  • The patient is attached to machines and tubes.
  • Some patients are agitated or uncomfortable during treatments.
  • Family members may find it difficult to see the patient in this condition.

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