Bioethics Blogs

The Oxford Handbook of Ethics at the End of Life

The Oxford Handbook of Ethics at the End of Life is coming.  Edited by Stuart J. Youngner and Robert M. Arnold, this handbook will cover everything from disability to continuous sedation to surrogate decision making.

Oxford just uploaded several of the individual chapters, including “Medical Futility and Potentially Inappropriate Treatment” by Doug White and me.

Here is our abstract:  “This article provides a historical, ethical, and conceptual review of medical futility disputes in the intensive care unit (ICU). Particular emphasis is placed on the role that physician power plays in these disputes. Specifically, the article analyzes the circumstances and arguments proposed to justify when physicians may stop life-sustaining treatment without the consent of either the patient or surrogate.”

“The article begins by reviewing the history of the medical futility movement and the causes of medical futility disputes. Second, the major positions and policy statements addressing how such disputes should be resolved are summarized. Third, the article turns from an objective, descriptive approach to a more normative approach by highlighting the value-laden nature of most “futility” judgments regarding potentially inappropriate treatment. Finally, an outline of how clinicians should respond to requests for ICU interventions that they deem medically or ethically inappropriate is provided.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.