Medical Futility: Strike Two
Capron, Alexander Morgan
Hastings Center Report. 1994 Sep-Oct; 24(5): 42-43.
...The lesson for the Baby K case is that a decision to intervene medically can never rest solely on a particular technology (such as mechanical ventilation) or a particular condition (such as apnea) but must always involve the complete circumstances of the patient and the treatment setting. This principle applies as much to emergency treatments as to any other, and it can only be hoped that if other courts fail to incorporate this understanding into their interpretation of EMTALA, Congress will clarify that the act is intended to outlaw discrimination against poor patients, not command that patients be equated with their symptoms and be provided with every medical intervention known to have any physiologic effect on those symptoms regardless of the prospect of truly benefitting the patient. In each case, "benefit" must be defined through a fair and open process that respects patients' wishes without making those wishes the only basis for decision.
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