developmental disabilities, life support care, palliative care, withholding treatment



  1. Goldsmith, Barbara RN, BSN, CHPN
  2. Hendrix, Cristina C. DNS, APRN-BC, GNP, FNP
  3. Gentry, Jennifer RN, MSN, ANP, APRN-BC, PCM


The life span of developmentally disabled individuals has been greatly extended as a result of continued advances in medical technology and life-prolonging treatments. Consequently, this special population now faces many of the same chronic or terminal illnesses as the general population. Hospitals and healthcare providers are experiencing an upsurge of patients with developmental disabilities facing end-of-life care issues in acute care settings. Therefore, it is imperative for acute care providers to become proficient in the delivery of palliative care to this unique population and their families.