Advances in medicine have made it increasingly possible to extend the end of a person’s life. As a consequence, also the need for medical decisions that have a
direct influence on how long the patient lives has increased. This study examines
the decision-making practice regarding continuing, withholding or withdrawing life-prolonging procedures. For this purpose, in 2013/14, 9,000 death certificates from the German-, French-, and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland were randomly sampled. For each death certificate, the issuing physician was asked which medical procedures were used or forgone, for what reason, and who was involved in the decision-making. The study aims to deliver valid information on the type and prevalence of medical end-of-life decisions in Switzerland. Comparisons with other European countries
and with the first study of this kind in Switzerland, conducted in 2001/02, will
provide insights on trends. A special focus is given to continuous deep sedation until death.The results of the study aim to improve awareness of ethical aspects in medical end-of-life decisions and to contribute towards improving the quality of life of persons with terminal illness.