Abandoning a Waning Life
Capron, Alexander Morgan
Hastings Center Report. 1995 Jul-Aug; 25(4): 24-26.
When it comes to getting a clear legal statement concerning their authority to forgo "futile" treatment, physicians must feel like Tantalus. Repeatedly in the past several years, this issue -- certainly one of the most controversial in clinical ethics today -- has appeared ready for judicial resolution. Yet a clear ruling on whether physicians may withhold or withdraw treatment patients or their families want still dangles just out of reach. The most recent experience in frustration came in April when a jury in the Suffolk County Superior Court returned a verdict for Massachusetts General Hospital and two of its physicians who had been sued for withdrawing life-support systems from an ailing patient over the objections of her daughter. The media trumpeted this as the case in which the "court ruled that a hospital and its doctors need not provide care they deem futile, even if the patient has asked for it." But a closer look shows that
Aged; Allowing to Die; Clinical Ethics; Clinical Ethics Committees; Dissent; Doctors; Ethics; Ethics Committees; Family Members; Futility; Guidelines; Hospitals; Legal Aspects; Life; Patients; Persistent Vegetative State; Physicians; Prognosis; Public Policy; Quality of Life; Resuscitation; Resuscitation Orders; Value of Life; Ventilators; Withholding Treatment;
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