The Ethics Of Futile Medical Treatment Essay

The Ethics Of Futile Medical Treatment Essay

Length: 1744 words (5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Ethics of Futile Medical Treatment
Futile treatment can be casually defined as treatment that fails to benefit the patient as a whole (Luce). Such medical intervention can be seen in many forms, such as treating an individual who is of old age and has very little time to live regardless of any medical treatment, as well as using a treatment that has been seen to have little to no benefit to patients in the past (Schneiderman). The debate on futile care starts with how to properly define it, and then continues to be controversial when deciding who gets to make the call on if a treatment is futile and how they arrive at that conclusion.
Futile medical treatment can be seen as an ethical issue from all perspectives: the patient, the physician, as well as society as a whole. Although there has not yet been a resolution of the issue of implementing futile care by case law or a legal statute, the avoidance of futile treatment is supported by ethical principle (Luce). Based on the Utilitarian theory of ethics, which bases ethical decisions on the consequences they will lead to and creating the greatest surplus of happiness, the most ethical approach to the issue of futile medical treatment is to refrain from it. This practice would create the most happiness for all beneficiaries, the patient, physician, and public.
The ethical dilemma of medical futility can be seen dating back to the times as long ago as the fifth-century with physicians such as Hippocrates (Jecker). As technology continues to develop faster than our laws and standards can keep up with, the issue of how to properly administer treatment that may be considered futile becomes more and more pressing in the medical and ethical communities. As of late, physicians have...

... middle of paper ...

... is irreversible. Therefore, if physicians ceased to use expensive medical treatments near the end of the patient’s life, their autonomy would be better respected (Emanuel). This idea that limiting care respects self-autonomy is also supported by one study done by William B. Weeks MD of sixty-six patients that had prepared advanced directives. Only thirteen of these patients expressed their interest in receiving terminal care. This study concluded that the majority of patients who had considered what they wished for the end of their lives, that the majority did not wish to receive life-sustaining care that would prolong their lives for a short period of time, and therefore refuse futile or unbeneficial treatment (Weeks). Refraining from using futile medical treatment would therefore generate the greatest surplus of happiness by respecting the wishes of the patients.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Euthanasia and Futile Care Essay

- Euthanasia and "Futile Care" Imagine visiting your 85-year-old mother in the hospital after she has a debilitating stroke. You find out that, in order to survive, she requires a feeding tube and antibiotics to fight an infection. She once told you that no matter what happened, she wants to live. But the doctor refuses further life-sustaining treatment. When you ask why, you are told, in effect, "The time has come for your mother to die. All we will provide is comfort care." Sound far-fetched....   [tags: Euthanasia Physician Assisted Suicide]

Free Essays
1631 words (4.7 pages)

Essay The Four Principles Of Biomedical Ethics

- Euthanasia should not be accepted as part of the standard way of dying because it not only contradicts the most respected moral principle of ‘thou shalt not kill’, but also good medical practice. The four principles of biomedical ethics can be used as a framework to help guide moral decision-making in difficult situations including euthanasia. Arguments against the moral permissibility of euthanasia which are based on respecting autonomy and non-maleficence outweigh those related to beneficence and justice....   [tags: Euthanasia, Death, Suicide, Ethics]

Better Essays
1486 words (4.2 pages)

Nursing Code of Ethics Essay

- There are many different thoughts and beliefs surrounding ethics. Ethic codes of conduct are in place. Ethics has always existed but has been more closely looked at over the last 40 years. There is discussion about futile care to patients in intensive care settings and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders for surgical patients. Guidelines and regulations need to be followed and set forth. Patient Rights and Ethical Decisions Introduction The purpose of this paper is to discuss nursing ethics. The paper will discuss: the history of ethics, definition, doctor/nurse being education about ethics in college, code of ethics, futile care and the confusion with DNR orders....   [tags: Nursing Profession, Nursing Career]

Free Essays
1985 words (5.7 pages)


- Introduction According to Ullmann-Margalit (51) while dealing with the subject the agony of doubt deliberates that it is among the most confusing issues to deal with. Most people do not want to die, at least not now, and the debate of holding on to the inevitable and that of letting go heats up. Questions arise concerning the social, religious and ethical factors that have to be taken into play while considering end-of-life or right-to-die and thus bringing complexity to an otherwise easy decision....   [tags: Medical Ethics ]

Better Essays
1297 words (3.7 pages)

Aja Riggs and the Ethics of the Right To Die Essay

- The case of Aja Riggs falls under the category of medical ethics. Medical ethics is defined by four fundamental principles or pillars. The first pillar is “respect for the autonomy of the patient.” This means that the patient must be completely informed of the details of their condition, as well as have complete freedom to make their own choice regarding a course of action. The second is “promoting what is best for the patient.” This simply means that the actions of the doctors must be aimed at promoting the general welfare of the patient, usually pertaining to said patient’s health....   [tags: Death With Dignity Essays]

Better Essays
2584 words (7.4 pages)

Essay on Ethics of In Vitro Fertilization

- In Vitro Fertilization “The unexamined life is not worth living.” With these words, Socrates stated the creed of reflective men and women and set the task for ethics: to seek, with the help of reason, a consistent and defensible approach to life and its moral dilemmas (Walters 22). Ethical inquiry is important to us when we are unsure of the direction in which we are heading. “New philosophy calls all in doubt,” wrote John Donne in the wake of the Copernican Revolution and of Charles I’s violent death, suggesting that new thoughts had challenged old practices (Donne)....   [tags: Biomedical Pregnancy Bioethics]

Better Essays
2462 words (7 pages)

Ethics in Euthanasia: Prohibiting Physicians from Conducting the Practice

- It was a cold and foggy December morning in the city of Amsterdam. Birds were chirping, dogs barking, and alarm clocks ringing to wake the sleeping city. “Time of death?” asked the doctor. “6:24am,” replied the nurse as she looked down to the watch on her wrist. For the nurse, this was becoming part of a normal routine. The patient was a woman, in her late 50s who had been in the hospital for about a week now. She had suffered from a stroke and was placed in the hospital by her family. The woman was very buoyant, and had an optimistic personality....   [tags: doctor-assisted suicide, the right to die]

Better Essays
1463 words (4.2 pages)

Physician Assisted Suicide Or Euthanasia Essay

- Physician-assisted suicide or 'Euthanasia ' is the primary act of laying a sickly person to rest if their suffering exceeds the point of living. In many cases Euthanasia is necessary to cease the pain that a suffering person must live with. To relieve the suffering of both the patient and the family members. Oftentimes a patient can be under such extreme and severe pain that only they are able to experience, and they may not be able to communicate with a physician to put an end to their suffering; or even speak to their own family members for that matter....   [tags: Euthanasia, Death, Medical ethics]

Better Essays
1166 words (3.3 pages)

Should Euthanasia Be Legalized? Essay

- As terminally ill patients come to terms with an end-of-life diagnosis, one of their main concern is dying with dignity, and not left to suffer a long and drawn out death. Euthanasia, also known as mercy killing, is a sensitive and very controversial subject. In the opinion of several people, doctors should not participate in any action that ends a person’s life due to the Hippocratic Oath stating that doctors are obligated to save lives. Although, euthanasia is considered to be immoral and even murder, it should be legalized when a person’s quality of life, due to an incurable illness, is gradually going to become slim to none....   [tags: Death, Euthanasia, Medical ethics]

Better Essays
1293 words (3.7 pages)

The Issue Of Assisted Suicide Essay

- John Key once said “If I had terminal cancer, I had a few weeks to live, I was in tremendous amount of pain - if they just effectively wanted to turn off the switch and legalize that by legalizing euthanasia, I 'd want that” (Brainyquote, web). John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, supports euthanasia. Since Key has been in office, the public support for euthanasia went up 70%. If people are changing around the world, then why aren’t Americans changing to accept that assisted suicide is morally correct and provides the terminally ill with the right to die with dignity....   [tags: Medical ethics, Death, Euthanasia, Suffering]

Better Essays
1598 words (4.6 pages)