Ethics Of Medical Fuutility

Better Essays
Medical Futility
Michele Kirn
Xavier University

Medical futility refers any medical treatment that is not likely to attain the preferred goal or has little chance for recovery or survival, which then justifies the reasoning not to provide treatment or withdraw life-lengthening treatment (Thompson, 2011). It refers to when medical treatment is more of a burden then therapeutic and when therapies are not valuable to patients (Robley, 2009). It allows health-care providers to claim a medical treatment as medically futile causing a treatment to be withdrawn or not to occur, not allowing the patients life to be extended because of medical support. This subject can be controversial on whether it is ethical to deem something medically futile. Should healthcare professionals allow patients or their surrogate decision makers to make the decision to prolong life or should the healthcare workers or ethics committee’s decision have the rights to deem something medically futile? On the side of patient or surrogate decision maker having the final say, one could argue this allows for patient autonomy and justice. This is especially apparent for patients who are disabled physically or mentally and do not have the competence to make their own decisions (Werth, 2005). However, non-maleficence and beneficence can be argued as well. Medical futility is apparent across all ages from the young to the old, especially in critical care and emergency situations. It is important for nurses and other caregivers to understand their side and impact on the outcome of patients. The purpose of this paper is to examine the different sides of medical futility.
Contextual Information
Medical futility is diffi...

... middle of paper ...

... life needs to be kept in mind and sometimes families might not understand or have different views because of cultural, religious, and spiritual reasons. Anger, guilt, sorrow and fear are some of the emotions that are going through the family and patients minds at this time. The healthcare workers need to keep this in mind and possibly allow medically futile treatments for a short amount of time to allow closure. However, if a treatment is only going to put more stress and pain on the patient and possibly even decrease their quality of life even more, I feel the patient would not want to hang on any longer. The healthcare team, especially nurses, have a large role in helping the family and patient understand this. Although this is a very controversial subject, families and healthcare workers can use ethical theoretical perspectives to come up with a moral decision.
Get Access