INTRODUCTION: This paper proposes a reflection on the ethical relationship of the physiotherapist in the Intensive Therapy Unit. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed a literature review on the basis of electronic databases MEDLINE, LILACS e SciELO, the period 1998-2010. The words were: "ethics in physical therapy in the ICU" and combinations of the words "physiotherapy", "ethics/bioethics", "ICU/ICC", "humanization" and "health". RESULTS: Adding up all databases, generated by the corpus consisted of 23 bibliographic records, records of these 23, four have significant interface with the ethics of physiotherapy in the ICU. DISCUSSION: Studies show that, due to the recent role of the physiotherapist in the ICU environment associated with the fact that a very strict routine established in these centers and little discussion of the ethical dilemmas of the day-to-day ICUs, becomes urgent change in how to manage the relationship between patient and therapist, aiming to improve human relations at all levels. FINAL CONSIDERATIONS: According to the literature review presented, it is of fundamental importance the involvement and participation of a physiotherapist in discussions involving ethical dilemmas in ICU, in addition, the acquisition of more knowledge about ethical issues and aspects related to the humanization of intensive care should be topics of discussion not only limited to the scope of physical therapy, but all professionals. Additionally, future studies are needed to improve the practice of physical therapy and better define and point out the main difficulties in this professional context.
Bioethics; Ethics; Physiotherapy; Intensive care unit