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Three myths in end-of-life care
  1. Dominic Wilkinson
  1. The Robinson Institute, Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Adelaide, North Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dominic Wilkinson, Department of Neonatal Medicine, Women's and Children's Hospital, 72 King William Rd, North Adelaide 5006, South Australia, Australia; dominic.wilkinson{at}

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Huang and colleagues provide some intriguing insights into the attitudes about end of life care of practising Taiwanese neonatal doctors and nurses.1 There are some similarities with surveys from other parts of the world. Most Taiwanese neonatologists and nurses agreed that it was potentially appropriate to withhold or limit treatment for infants who were dying. A very high proportion was opposed to active euthanasia of such infants. But there were also some striking differences. Only 21% of Taiwanese doctors ‘agreed’ with withdrawal of mechanical ventilation for dying newborn infants. This proportion is lower than reported in any European country.2 More than 90% of neonatologists surveyed in the UK, the USA, The Netherlands and Sweden found withdrawal of mechanical ventilation acceptable.2 ,3 Taiwanese doctors also seemed reluctant to give analgesia or sedatives to such infants, with almost 60% disagreeing with their use in dying infants where there was a risk of hastening death.1 In contrast, two-thirds or more of European neonatologists thought this was acceptable (and in several countries this rate was again above 90%).2

The results of the survey of Huang et al highlight three beliefs about end-of-life care that are widespread, but all of which are seriously mistaken1. None are new, but …

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  • Contributors DW is the sole author.

  • Funding This work was supported by an early career fellowship from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council [1016641].

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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