It is similar to terminal extubation except that the withdrawal of support occurs incrementally, often over a span of several hours or days. At predetermined intervals the ventilatory rate is decreased and/or the fraction of inspired oxygen is decreased. The process continues until the patient is no longer receiving ventilatory support or death has occurred.
The ethical considerations that guide terminal extubation apply equally to terminal weaning. Terminal weaning takes longer than extubation: this gives the patient, his family, and professional staff more time to reflect on his life and adjust to his or her death.