Bioethics Blogs

What Does “Futility” Mean? An Empirical Study of Physician Perceptions

A superstar cast of researchers has a new article in the Medical Journal of Australia that empirically measures how clinicians assess “futility.”  They found that “despite variations in wording, there was conceptual consistency in how doctors defined futility.”

They distilled the following definition from the majority of responses, largely using their words:
“Futile treatment is treatment that has only a very low chance of achieving meaningful benefit for the patient in terms of:

  • improving quality of life;
  • sufficiently prolonging life of acceptable quality; or
  • bringing benefits that outweigh the burdens of treatment.”

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.