Virtual Mentor. May 2000, Volume 2, Number 5.
Readers are referred to an article by SJ Youngner in a 1998 issue of JAMA to discuss whether physicians should continue to use the term futility, which might confuse some patients to think that the appropriate standard of care is not being provided.
Articles and books on bioethics continue to expand in both number and the range of topics discussed. Between 1989 and 1998, more than 4000 articles alone were published in MEDLINE-cited journals. Some of the major topics examined are the patient-physician relationship, end-of-life care, reproductive medicine, genetics, and the allocation of scarce medical resources. From these publications, we will be selecting a handful of articles and chapters, some of which reflect issues of perennial concern to physicians, others reflect more recent quandries resulting from advances in biomedical technology.
A new article or book chapter will be featured every month, accompanied by questions intended to guide readers along the path of ethical reasoning and to promote discussion.
Youngner SJ. Who defines futility? JAMA. 1988;260:2094-2095.
Questions for Discussion
Many patients and their families take "futility" to be synonymous with deliberately failing to provide appropriate care. But just because aggressive treatment is discontinued, or is not elevated, does not mean that appropriate treatment, consistent with the standard of care, is not being given to the patient.
The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.
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