Requests for treatment deemed medically inappropriate, often referred to as
requests for “futile treatment,” constitute one of the most intractable ethical
challenges in the care of patients. Over the last 25 years, various
attempts have been made to address the issue, yet many clinicians and others
indicate that very little progress has been made in preventing, reducing or
successfully resolving these situations.
Efforts to define futile treatment and develop procedural guidelines to
resolve conflicts have been largely unsuccessful. Physicians and medical
ethicists Jeffrey Burns and Robert Truog have instead proposed better
communication between clinicians and patients and the use of mediation
techniques to resolve differences (“Futility: A Concept in Evolution,”
Chest 132, no 6 [December 2007]: 1987-93).
This webinar explored why we are still struggling with requests for medically
inappropriate treatment, ethical considerations for approaching them, and some
strategies for addressing them.
Presenters: Nick Kockler, Ph.D., Senior Ethicist/Director of Ethics
Education, Providence Center for Health Care Ethics, Portland and Kelly Stuart,
MD, Medical Ethicist, Bon Secours Virginia HealthSource, Inc., Richmond
This is a recording of the webinar held on April 29, 2015
Run time: 75 minutes