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Anesthesiology Research and Practice
Volume 2009 (2009), Article ID 915197, 8 pages
Review Article

The Ethics of Rationing of Critical Care Services: Should Technology Assessment Play a Role?

Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA

Received 27 May 2009; Revised 13 July 2009; Accepted 2 September 2009

Academic Editor: Alex Macario

Copyright © 2009 Eric L. Bloomfield. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The costs of health care continue to increase rapidly and steeply in the United States. One area of great expense is that of intensive care units (ICUs). The causes of inflation have not been addressed effectively. ICU resources could become stretched such that they may no longer be available. This paper discusses some of the ethics and concerns behind decision making when providing ICU services in the United States. In particular, the use of electronic records with decision making tools, risk-analysis methods, and documentation of patient wishes for extraordinary care may help with better utilization of resources in the future.