Ordinary and Extraordinary Means
BMJ (British Medical Journal). 1986 Jan 25; 292(6515): 259-261.
The Roman Catholic doctrine of ordinary and extraordinary means in patient care decisions is the subject of this essay in Gillon's series on medical ethics. He briefly traces the Church history of this doctrine, which holds that saving life is not obligatory if doing so would be excessively burdensome or disproportionate in relation to the expected benefits. The burdens and benefits are to be weighed in the context of "circumstances of persons, places, times, and cultures," and factors such as the costs and risks of undergoing a proposed treatment may be considered. Gillon also notes the disagreement among Roman Catholic commentators over whether it is ever permissible to discontinue feeding as a burdensome, extraordinary treatment. He concludes that, despite different weightings of harms and benefits, Roman Catholic and non-Catholic thinkers are in accord over the appropriate moral approach to deciding when treatment is not obligatory. (KIE abstract)
Adults; Allowing to Die; Artificial Feeding; Congenital Disorders; Costs and Benefits; Ethics; Extraordinary Treatment; Family Members; Life; Medical Ethics; Moral Obligations; Moral Policy; Newborns; Patient Care; Patients; Physicians; Resuscitation; Resuscitation Orders; Risks and Benefits; Roman Catholic Ethics;
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