Bioethics Blogs

Defining Futile and Potentially Inappropriate Interventions: A Policy Statement From the Society of Critical Care Medicine Ethics Committee

The June 2015 multi-organization statement (An official ATS/AACN/ACCP/ESICM/SCCM Policy Statement: Responding to Requests for Potentially Inappropriate Treatments in Intensive Care Units) provides examples of potentially inappropriate treatments; however, it provides no clear definition.  

Therefore, the Society of Critical Care Medicine just published (in the Sept. 2016 Critical Care Medicine) a separate statement adding guidance to clinicians in the ICU environment.

The heart of the SCCM statement is the following:

“ICU  interventions  should  generally  be  considered inappropriate when there is no reasonable expectation that the patient will improve sufficiently to survive outside the acute care setting, or when there is no reasonable expectation that the patient’s neurologic function will improve sufficiently to allow the patient to perceive the benefits of treatment.”

“The above definition should not be considered exhaustive. There will be cases in which life-prolonging interventions may reasonably be considered inappropriate even when the above definition is not met.”

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.