Medical futility - Essay Example

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In a situation where the loved ones of a patient are insisting on treatment irrespective weather the medical intervention is beneficial to the client, various factors…
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Medical futility
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Medical Futility MEDICAL FUTILITY Medical futilty is defined as medical interventions that do not confer any significance benefits to the patient. In a situation where the loved ones of a patient are insisting on treatment irrespective weather the medical intervention is beneficial to the client, various factors have to be considered before their wishes are granted. Key among them is the effect of the medical procedure on the patient. A medical procedure should be able to alleviate suffering or at least stablize the patient and not vice-versa. If the later is the most possible out come, then the procedure should not be undertaken. As a physician am not obliged to offer to a patient medication that I know will only aggreviate their condition. Futile interventions tend to increase the patient’s pain instead of reducing it. Medicine has come of age, especially in the American society where the role played by the patient is both important and inclusive. Even though patients have a right to make a choice or even demand that the acceptable treatment be given to them, it does not expresslly provide that their wish be granted. A physician is only obliged to offer treatment that conforms to the professional guidelines. Many at times the decision is made based on the personal preference of the patient. A patient may decide that a particular outcome is not worth striving for and therefore reject or demand tratment. As a medical physician I would therefore take it upon my self to explain to the family of the patient about the various medical procudures available and the futility of those procedures. In a loving and compassionate language I would try my best to make them understand the dinamics of such treatment in an effort to help them come to closure with the issue. I may only agree to use some of these interventions to help the patient stay alive if at all there is an important relative who really needs to see the patient alive at least for the last time. Carefull choice of words comes in handy here especially when trying to make the family and friends to realize that the decision has nothing to do with the availability or cost of the necessary medical equipment for the futile procedure. According to medical ethics; the principle of beneficience states that every medical practioner must endevour to do well to the patient whenever possible, including when the most beneficial thing to do is “nothing”. It’s therefore important to have all parties realize that it’s for the best interest of the patient that nothing is done. That’s where statements like “everything posible will be done to ensure the patient’s confort and dignity is maintained” instead of just saying “there is nothing we can do”. I will also try to recommend to the family readily available palliative or hospice facilities that they can enrole the patient into even as they try to make the patient comfortable. Paliative care is a good way of ensuring the patient is well taken care of so as to help them manage the illness even as the family and friends take time to come into terms with the gravity of the decission. I will also bring on board both clinical and Psychological counsellors who can assist with stress management in order to alleviate the psychological strain on the family and friends. The decision as to weather a treatment is futile or not is not to be made byme alone. Especially bearing in mind that there are no distinct definations of what futile treatment is. As a result there are no clear guidelines on how to handle such situations. Due to this ambiquity, most decisions are made depending on the kind of medical condition the patient is suffering from and the previous responses of the patient to the available treatment. I would therefore bring on board other collegues including my seniors to help me decifer how best I can help the family.
Schneiderman LJ, Jecker NS, Honsen AR. (1990) Medical Futility: Its Meaning and Ethical Implications. Ann Intern Med 112:949-
McCrary SV, Swanson JW, Younnger SJ, Perkins HS, Winslade WJ.(1994) Physicians’ Quantitative Assessments of Medical Futility. The Journal of Clinical Ethics 5:100-105,
American Medical Association, Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs. Code of Medical Ethics, Section E-9.06. Read More
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