Author(s): Taylor C
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Abstract Defining medical futility is central to the efforts of clinicians and ethicists who seek to identify the limits of patient autonomy. This article is a critique of current efforts to define and then use policies of medical futility to justify refusing requests for treatment and care that have no perceived medical benefit. After exploring the current definitions of medical futility in the bioethics and clinical literature, comparisons of the advantages and disadvantages of the following three options are provided: allowing patients to decide all but physiologic futility, allowing clinicians to decide futility, and pursuing negotiated compromise. The third option--negotiated compromise--is recommended. A role is developed for nurses in preventing and resolving conflict about futile treatment.
This article was published in Image J Nurs Sch
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Research & Bioethics