Premium Essay

Is It Ethical for Doctors to Refuse Futile Treatment?

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By ahugecat
Words 968
Pages 4
Should doctors be able to refuse demands for "futile" treatment? "Futile" treatment is when there is no medical benefit from the treatment they are receiving, and that there will be no improvement if they are in a permanent vegetative state. Although the concept of medical futility dates back in the Ancient Greek days with physician Hippocrates, it has only recently (in the past 40 years) become a controversial topic. The issue of medical futility is important because it deals with many issues such as patient-physician relationship, financial resources, and most importantly it deals with lives of people. The issues are controversial because it has alarmed many people that physicians may be taking it a step too far being able to pull the plug on a person with an incapacitating condition. The debate is over who has the right to make this decision - the patient's family or physician. There are two sides to this debate; the "Yes" side says that the physician is more qualified and is following what the patient's want to receive while the "No" side says that it should not be up to the physician to decide if the life is worth keeping or not. Steven Miles supports the idea that doctors should be able to refuse futile medical treatment. He maintains that physicians should be able to refuse futile medical treatment because it takes up too many resources, violates community standards, and it follows patient's wishes when what they expect is not what the treatment can achieve. The example used in the book is the case of Helga Wanglie, an 85 year old woman who was placed on a respirator. She was unconscious and unable to make a decision whether to end her life or not, so it would be either the family's decision or the physician's decision. The cost was a huge factor; Medicare was paying $200,000 to keep Mrs. Wanglie alive while a private insurer was paying $500,000. Steven...

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Can Muslim Doctors Refuse to Treat the Opposite Sex?

...CAN MUSLIM DOCTORS REFUSE TO TREAT THE OPPOSITE SEX?   By: Wesley J. Smith First Things October 5, 2012 Link to Original Article Not too long ago, the ethics of medicine were pretty straightforward. Inspired by the Hippocratic Oath, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals generally followed the “do no harm” maxim, seeing themselves (ideally) as duty-bound to protect and preserve all human life. But times have changed. Society has grown increasingly morally pluralistic, while at the same time medical technology has advanced, making the work of medical professionals far more complicated. For example, abortion is now considered a right throughout most of the West, but many physicians conscientiously object to participating in taking the lives of fetuses. Many gay couples use in-vitro fertilization, surrogacy, and sophisticated artificial insemination procedures to have children, while some fertility doctors resist participating for moral reasons. With health care cost-cutting coming strongly to the fore, most mainstream bioethicists want to grant doctors the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment they consider “futile” because it is expensive to merely “extend the time of dying.”  These moral conflicts have sparked an increasingly heated bioethical controversy: Whether—and to what extent—medical professionals have a right of conscience to refuse their services based on religious or moral objections to what the patient desires.  ...

Words: 879 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay


...euthanasia usually signifies “voluntary active euthanasia”. According to the Professional Code of Practice of the Medical Council of Hong Kong, euthanasia is defined as “direct intentional killing of a person as part of the medical care being offered”. Euthanasia is illegal throughout the world with the exception of Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. However, in public debates and in bioethics literature, the term euthanasia often carries a broader meaning. Forgoing life-sustaining treatment (LST) is often considered as one form of euthanasia, labeled as “passive euthanasia”. Different ethicists define “passive euthanasia” differently. Some define the term as all forms of forgoing LST, while some define it as forgoing LST with the intention to shorten life. It should be noted that, legally and medically, forgoing LST is distinct from active euthanasia. The former, if carried out under appropriate circumstances (when it is the wish of a mentally competent patient or when the treatment is futile), is legally acceptable in most parts of the world including Hong Kong. To avoid any unnecessary confusing connotations, the term “passive euthanasia” is not recommended by the medical and legal field, and the term is not used...

Words: 2292 - Pages: 10

Free Essay

Death, Dying and Other Ethical Dilemmas

...Death, dying and other ethical dilemmas Anand Chatoorgoon University of Phoenix Death, dying and other ethical dilemmas are issues that all Intensive Care Units (ICUs) throughout the world have to face and address. In the Current Opinion in Critical Care, Vol 16, No 6, December 2010, p. 640, Dixon-Woods and Bosk, writing on the topic of “Death, dying and other ethical dilemmas” under the journal’s section of ‘Ethical, legal and organizational issues in the ICU’, have stated that “Recent ethnographic work suggests that ethical dilemmas associated with end-of-life care in ICU clearly persist, even if clinicians are now more open about patients’ chances of surviving. An Australian study identified how decisions and actions made outside the ICU—such as proceeding with surgical procedures with very poor prognosis or admitting moribund patients who had sustained severe respiratory or cardiac arrest—led to a higher than expected rate of non-booked admissions. Staff believed these to be the result of futile interventions by staff outside the ICU that then resulted in ICU staff having to manage the patient and family through the dying process. ICU staff believed that this practice was detrimental to families by offering false hope of recovery, and that they were left to ‘clear up the unfinished work of medical staff’. Other studies have also documented the problems faced by staff confronted by patients whose potential for recovery is, at best, marginal, or when patients’...

Words: 1567 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Pros and Cons of Euthenasia

... | |Euthanasia is a highly controversial topic among many political and religious groups. The purpose of this project is to detail the facts of | |Euthanasia and to list the pros and cons surrounding the topic. Euthanasia is prohibited in the United States. However I will show that | |patients practice forms of this “mercy killing” legally each day while exercising their right to die. This project will list guidelines in | |which Euthanasia should be legalized and give arguments as to why the decision should be the sole right of the suffering individual. | Imagine that your mother is terminally ill with stomach cancer and will, according to the doctors, live the rest of her life in excruciating pain. Her quality of life will be significantly diminished and she will be on strong medications, which will at times render her unconscious and unable to function just to help control the pain for the remaining part of her life. Imagine your son was in a terrible car accident,...

Words: 2262 - Pages: 10

Premium Essay

Medical Reasearch

... The following case is based on a real clinical dilemma that led to a request for an ethics consultation.  Some details have been changed to preserve patient privacy.  The goal of this column is to address ethical dilemmas faced by patients, families and healthcare professionals, offering careful analysis and recommendations that are consistent with biblical standards.  The format and length are intended to simulate an actual consultation report that might appear in a clinical record and are not intended to be an exhaustive discussion of the issues raised. Case: Dorthea is a 69-year-old woman who was well and active until about five years ago when she developed diabetes.  She was admitted to the hospital 18 months ago with recurrent fainting and was found to have an intermittent transient heart block1.  She reluctantly consented to insertion of a permanent pacemaker.  Three months ago her kidney function was found to be diminished to about 10% of normal, probably caused by her diabetes.  It was expected that she would soon require dialysis.  However, her kidney function has since improved so that dialysis will not likely be needed for some time.  She has since said she would refuse dialysis even if it were needed, and she has refused treatment of her profound anemia.  She did consent to a colonoscopy last month to see if she had cancer (malignant change was found in one small area, presumably cured).  She is now asking that her pacemaker be turned off......

Words: 5146 - Pages: 21

Free Essay

Ethics and Law in Nursing

... 22 Conclusion 25 References 26 Appendix 27 Glossary of terms CPR: Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. DNACPR: Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. NMC: Nursing & Midwifery Council. GMC: General Medical Council. BMA: British Medical Association. GP: General Practitioner Introduction The Aim of this module is to encourage me to enhance my personal and professional skills, to increase the efficacy of patient care and interaction. Also to make me more aware of the legal, professional and ethical implications of practice. The module allowed me to further develop my knowledge of these topics: Ethics & Accountability, Legal Aspects of Practice, finally Accountability & Professional Practice. I was then asked to submit an essay of 4500 words based on the following: “Critically analyse an aspect of care from your practice setting that encompasses the ethical, professional & legal role of the nurse. Issues of accountability should be incorporated into this essay”. Aspect of care The aspect of care I have chosen to include in my essay is the “Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR)” Adult Policy 2010 (please see Appendix 1). I decided to choose this topic as there was a situation on my ward recently where a patient discovered a DNACPR form in the front of her nursing notes. The patient was very upset as she was not aware of this decision. She was an elderly lady with end stage Chronic......

Words: 5245 - Pages: 21

Premium Essay

Euthanasia Business Ethics

...EUTHANASIA- The “Right” to Die ABSTRACT Euthanasia is one of those Taboo topics that individuals try to distance themselves from due to the fact that it’s a sensitive issue. Most individuals try to take a politically correct stand without evaluating the impact it has on the aggrieved party’s life. Euthanasia in itself may seem a simple issue at the first instance, but by probing deep into the issue we are made to ponder a lot about not only its ethical aspects but also the stakes involved in exercising Euthanasia as a fundamental right of an individual. The dilemma in this issue is a lot more complicated if we were to compare it to other conventional ethical dilemmas because both the stands seem morally right, but there’s a legal perspective which opposes one school of thought and supports the other. Is an individual allowed to determine his death if survival is more of a formality? If so what is the basis of qualifying a case to be a suitable contender for euthanasia? Is the judiciary ignoring this since Euthanasia is an issue faced by a minority? SOME FAMOUS VOICES ON EUTHNASIA: 1. Mr. Ravi B Naik, former High Court Judge and Senior Advocate: ( “When it is not possible for man to give life, who is he to take it away? We should leave death in the hands of God who gave life. There is no law that allows killing by force till a man dies naturally, nor should there be one. In a situation where it is ‘impossible to live’, people die naturally. When they......

Words: 4456 - Pages: 18

Premium Essay

Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal

...EUTHANASIA: The intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his alleged benefit. (If death is not intended, it is not an act of euthanasia) ARGUMENTS FOR EUTHANASIA: It provides away to relieve extreme pain It provides a way of relief when a person’s quality of life is low Frees up medical funds to help people It is another case of freedom of choice ARGUMENTS AGAINST EUTHANASIA: Euthanasia devalues human life Euthanasia can become a means of health care cost containment Physicians and other medical care people should not be involved in directly causing death There is a “slippery slope” effect that has occurred where euthanasia has been first been legalized for only the terminally and later laws are changed to allow it for other people or to be done non-voluntarily. Opposition overcomes 48 point deficit to defeat assisted suicide - Ballot Question 2 in Massachusetts 1 1 0 Google BOSTON, Nov. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In a stunning upset, the voters of Massachusetts soundly defeated Ballot Question 2 on Election Day. Dealing a significant setback to the expansion of the assisted suicide movement throughout the United States by Compassion & Choices (the organization formerly known as the Hemlock Society), a diverse coalition of disability rights organizations, medical associations, nurses' groups, community leaders and faith-based organizations united in this effort. "Tonight was a huge victory for those of us in......

Words: 6383 - Pages: 26

Free Essay


...then it is called euthanasia. For example, giving a patient a lethal injection or putting a plastic bag over her head to suffocate her would be considered euthanasia. On the other hand, it is an assisted suicide when the patient himself performs an act that leads to death, but has been assisted by a doctor or some other person. Thus it would be assisted suicide if the patient dies after swallows the overdose of drug provided by his doctor for the purpose of causing death. METHODS OF EUTHANASIA When, however, an action or medication is withheld from a patient for the primary purpose of causing or hastening death, this is passive, or indirect, euthanasia. These measures may include the with-holding or withdrawal of ordinary measures such as food, water (hydration) and oxygen. Examples of passive euthanasia are: when food and water is withheld from sick or disabled newborn babies who might otherwise have lived with-holding or withdrawing food and water from someone who is diagnosed as being in a 'persistent vegetative state,' has dementia, or who is not improving fast enough (e.g. from a stroke) 'do not resuscitate' orders written on patients' charts Drugs In Oregon, a doctor can write a prescription for drugs that are intended to kill the patient. When the prescription is...

Words: 2823 - Pages: 12

Premium Essay


...United Church of Christ: The Church affirms individual freedom and responsibility. It has not asserted that hastened dying is the Christian position, but the right to choose is a legitimate Christian decision. Mainline and Liberal Christian denominations: Pro-choice statements have been made by the United Church of Christ, and the Methodist Church on the US West coast. The 'Episcopalian (Anglican) Unitarian, Methodist, Presbyterian and Quaker movements are amongst the most liberal, allowing at least individual decision making in cases of active euthanasia The BBC wrote in an Aug. 3, 2009 online article titled "Religion & Ethics - Christianity: Euthanasia - the Christian View" on "Christians are mostly against euthanasia. The arguments are usually based on the beliefs that life is given by God, and that human beings are made in God's image. Some churches also emphasise the importance of not interfering with the natural process of death... Christians believe that the intrinsic dignity and value of human lives means that the value of each human life is identical. They don't think that human dignity and value are measured by mobility, intelligence, or any achievements in life. Valuing human beings as equal just because they are human beings has clear implications for thinking about euthanasia: • patients in a persistent vegetative state, although seriously damaged, remain living human beings, and so their intrinsic value remains the same as......

Words: 7225 - Pages: 29

Free Essay

End of Life

...banning physician-assisted suicide. Those courts had found that the statutes, which prohibited doctors from prescribing lethal medication to competent, terminally ill adults, violated the 14th Amendment. In striking the appellate decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court found that there was no constitutional "right to die," but left it to individual states to enact legislation permitting or prohibiting physician-assisted suicide. (The full text of these decisions, plus reports and commentary, can be found at the Washinton Post web site.) As of April 1999, physician-assisted suicide is illegal in all but a handful of states. Over thirty states have enacted statutes prohibiting assisted suicide, and of those that do not have statutes, a number of them arguably prohibit it through common law. In Michigan, Jack Kevorkian was initially charged with violating the state statute, in addition to first-degree murder and delivering a controlled substance without a license. The assisted suicide charge was dropped, however, and he was eventually convicted of second degree murder and delivering a controlled substance without a license. Only one state, Oregon, has legalized assisted suicide. The Oregon statute, which went into effect in October 1997, provides that a doctor may prescribe, but not administer, a lethal dose of medication to a patient who has less than six months to live. Two doctors must agree that the patient is mentally competent and that the decision was voluntary. As of......

Words: 13101 - Pages: 53

Premium Essay

Phil 235 Course Notes

...Chapter 1: Ethical Theory Meta-ethical positions include: * Ethical non-cognitivism (concept that ethics is a matter of feelings) * Ethical relativism (concept that ethics is relative to a particular point of view) * Ethical objectivism (notion that ethics is objective in nature). Meta-Ethical Positions Ethical Non-cognitivism The basis of ethical non-cognitivism is that ethical disagreement can be a highly emotional affair where no amount of reasoning is likely to convince the other party. * Example: “Let’s just agree to disagree” Ethical Relativism * Ethical relativism says that while ethical statements are cognitively meaningful, they do not hold in any objective sense because they depend on our point of view. * If we accept ethical relativism, then ethical disagreement among people who do not share the same perspective becomes impossible. * It assumes that if people agree on something, then it must be true. * Ethical relativism is suspect for a pragmatic reason: it is fundamentally at variance with our social practice. * Example: “To each his own”, or the belief that what’s right for one group isn’t necessarily right for another Ethical Objectivism * Ethical objectivism holds that right and wrong are objective phenomena. * Example: “I’m right and you’re wrong” What is Ethics? * As a discipline, ethics is a branch of philosophy. * It deals with questions of right and wrong conduct, and with what we ought to do and......

Words: 23725 - Pages: 95

Premium Essay


...the action as “the responsible thing to do.” He explained, “It’s built into the principles of the company to think in this fashion. That’s why the management team came to such an easy conclusion.”2 In the lawsuits that followed, however, damaging documents emerged casting doubt on Merck’s claim that it had acted responsibly by taking appropriate precautions in the development and marketing of the drug. For decades, Merck’s stellar reputation rested on the company’s emphasis on science-driven research and development. Merck employed some of the world’s most talented and best-paid researchers and led other pharmaceutical firms in the publication of scientific articles and the discovery of new medicines for the treatment of serious conditions that lacked a satisfactory treatment. For seven consecutive years in the 1980s, Merck was ranked by Fortune magazine...

Words: 14520 - Pages: 59

Premium Essay

Rizal Course Reviewer

...Rizal’s Nationalist Project: An Analysis of his Major Works Alvin Campomanes University of the Philippines-Diliman University of Asia and the Pacific This study guide aims to: provide a historical background of Rizal’s major works – (Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, his Annotation of Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, Sobre la Indolencia de los Filipinos and Filipinas Dentro de Cien Años; critically analyze the content of these works; explain the relationship of the ideas contained in these works in order to understand Rizal’s concept of nation, nationhood, and nationalism But before we proceed, here is an overview of Rizal’s life-history 1861-1882 birth, childhood in Calamba, studies in Biñan and Ateneo, execution of the GOMBURZA, imprisonment of Doña Teodora, encounter with police brutality, discrimination in the literary competition of the Liceo Artistico-Literario (where he won first prize for his El Consejo de los Dioses) 1882-1887 trip to Europe, education at the Universidad Central de Madrid, growth of his nationalism, El Amor Patrio (1882), brindis (speech) in honor of Juan Luna and Felix Resureccion Hidalgo (1884), publication of the Noli Me Tangere (1887). 1887-1888 According to historian Floro Quibuyen, the Calamba Hacienda Case was a turning point in Rizal’s life – it marked the beginning of his radicalization; a critical examination of his correspondences reveals a subversive Rizal – a separatist 1888-1892 second......

Words: 9249 - Pages: 37

Premium Essay


...GE 1301- PROFESSIONAL ETHICS AND HUMAN VALUES UNIT I & II – HUMAN VALUES The Story of a Carpenter An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house- building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss his paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by. The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career. When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed over the house key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said, “it is my parting gift to you.” What a shock! What a Shame! If only he had known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he built none too well. (Modified from LIVING WITH HONOUR by SHIV KHERA) Do we find ourselves in similar situations as the carpenter? Moving through our work hours fast paced, driven to “get the job done”, without much thought to moral values. How do we regain our focus as individuals and organizations? This is the challenge for the employee and the employer. Ethics are fundamental standards of conduct by which we work as a professional. VALUES ......

Words: 25613 - Pages: 103