Futility

No to Ad Hoc Death Panels

JAMA has editorialized concerning Futile Care Theory, aka medical futility. The idea is that when a doctor or bioethics committee believes that wanted life-sustaining treatment isn’t worth the suffering or cost, they should be able to veto a family or patient’s decision to stay alive and limit treatment to comfort care. The journal is reacting […]

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“How Doctors Die” and Patient Choice

I have often argued against Futile Care Theory that allows doctors and/or hospital bioethics committees to force desperately ill patients off wanted life-sustaining treatment. I find the whole approach very dangerous because it allows doctors to impose their values on patients and, moreover, it shifts the fundamental purpose of medicine away from sustaining life — […]

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No Legal Immunity For Death-Deciding Docs!

This is an important issue that has generally been ignored in the popular media about assisted suicide and the practice of doctors refusing wanted life-sustaining treatment. Physicians who legally cooperate in patient suicides or who refuse wanted care have almost absolute protection from lawsuits and criminal culpability, while their colleagues who provide medical end-of-life treatment […]

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Why We Need Medical “Non Discrimination” Laws

A medical system deeply dedicated to Hippocratic values of patient equality and uninfected by the “quality of life” virus would not need laws prohibiting discrimination against the sickest and most seriously disabled patients. Alas, doctors don’t take the Hippocratic Oath anymore and are under increasing pressure to consider costs when discussing treatment options. Moreover, Obamacare’s […]

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Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Bioethics pushed personal autonomy to the forefront of medical decision making, helping forge the legal right to say no to unwanted life-extending care. Today, if a person doesn’t want to be in an ICU or to be otherwise kept alive with medical treatment, the patient or family can say no. And that’s generally a very […]

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Forced DNR Coming to Texas?

Good grief! The state with the worst futile care law in the nation now has legislation pending that would enable doctors to place DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders on a patient’s chart without notice or permission — even if the patient is competent! From the text of S.B. 303 (PDF): Sec.A166.012. STATEMENT RELATING TO DO-NOT-RESUSCITATE […]

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Stealth Medical Futility: You Can’t Handle the Truth!

Futile Care Theory claims that doctors and hospital bioethics committees should be empowered to refuse wanted life-sustaining treatment based on their beliefs that the patient’s life is not worth living or too expensive to maintain (or both). But this flies in the face of patient autonomy, supposedly a prime directive of bioethics theory. Over the […]

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“Right to Live” Case Before Canada Supreme Court

Futile Care Theory, aka medical futility, is a bioethical theory under which doctors/ hospital bioethics committees are empowered to withdraw wanted life-sustaining treatment based on their perceptions of the patient’s quality of life and/or a cost-benefit analysis determining whether the money being spent is worth the price. Now the Canadian Supreme Court is going to […]

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Sedated to Death Without Permission in UK

Patients are not individuals in centralized healthcare systems. Rather, they become members of checklist categories on bureaucratic check lists. How else explain doctors putting nearly one-half of patients on the Liverpool Care Pathway sedation / dehydration protocol — in which patients are put in comas and denied sustenance — without bothering to tell patients of […]

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Michigan Legislation Requiring Hospital Disclosure of Refuse-to-Treat Policy

Futile Care Theory (aka medical futility) permits doctors and/or hospital bioethics committees to unilaterally withdraw wanted life-sustaining treatment based on cost and/or quality of life. This isn’t because the treatments don’t or won’t work — e.g., physiological futility — which should never have to be provided. To the contrary, they are refused precisely because they […]

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Forced Dehydration for 12-Year-Old Gunshot Victim?

Texas has an awful futile care law. It permits hospital bioethics committees to impose members/doctors’ values that a patient’s life is not worth living based on quality of life. A story just out shows the injustice of the process — a terrible law about which I wrote in more detail. On August 6, a 12-year-old […]

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Anti-Christian “Secularist” Futile Care Attack Parental Medical Decision Making Rights

The issue of when to cease life-supporting medical treatment — and whether it should be done over the objections of patients/families (Futile Care Theory) — are among the most important bioethical issues we face today. But surely, such questions should be approached as a general matter — not focused against a subset of patients. But […]

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Phony “Death Panel” Definition Won’t Make the Issue Go Away

By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC The Medical Establishment continues to try and misdirect the conversation on the pending threat of “death panels” under Obamacare. They pretend it is about “end of life discussions.” But even though Sarah Palin mistakenly made that allusion when she first coined the term, she quickly […]

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The Trouble With Futile Care Theory

By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC I was pretty teed off about the Canadian doctors trying to force Hassan Rasouli off of wanted life-sustaining treatment. Then, when I found out that even though they were absolutely wrong in their “certainty” that he would never wake up, they still were considering trying […]

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Doctors Ask Canadian Supreme Court to Impose Futile Care Theory

By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC The British Medical Journal reports that Canadian doctors are seeking Canadian Supreme Court authority to withdraw wanted life-extending treatment. From the May 10, 2012 story (abstract only): Canada’s Supreme Court will next week consider an appeal from two Canadian doctors who seek, against a family’s […]

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Doctor Shortage or Too Many Patients?

By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC Reader Don Nelson emails me a quote from the May 4 Kiplinger Newsletter. (No link): A severe doctor shortage is looming: Over the next decade, a 45,000 deficit of primary care physicians and a similar lack of surgeons and specialists. Some specialties will decline, despite […]

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“Third Generation” Futile Care Theory

By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC They keep wanting to force very sick patients off of wanted life-extending treatment. Known as futile care theory, medical futility, “inappropriate care,” and a few other names, the idea is to withdraw wanted life-sustaining and other potentially efficacious treatments based on the suffering caused to […]

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Idaho Poised to Ban “Futile Care” Medical Discrimination

By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC This is a great story of democratic governance. Awhile ago, I was informed that Idaho was poised to pass a bill explicitly permitting futile care impositions based on quality of life. It had passed one house unanimously under the radar as part of a larger […]

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