Thursday, May 03, 2012

Futility of medical treatment.

Want to know why our health care system is so expensive?  Because we do all sorts of things that confer no benefits.  The second to last sentence says it all.  From the NEJM:

"The ethical question therefore shifts to waste avoidance. Even though the concept of medical futility has had a vexed history, this new ethical question is a subcategory of the futility debate. We used to think that the issue of futility arose only when physicians, in keeping with their professional integrity, refused to offer useless treatment even when patients or families demanded it. We now realize that futile interventions may be administered not solely because of patients' demands but also by physicians acting out of habit or financial self-interest or on the basis of flawed evidence. The ethics of waste avoidance is thus in part a component of the ethics of professionalism."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

physicians also deliver futile care due to medico legal pressures - it one thing for a surgeon to refuse to take the dying patient to the OR if they deems it is another thing to turn off the ventilator, stop dialysis, feedings, etc when all physicians know this person is never going to make a meaningful recovery. If the family wishes everything be done...then they will be fed and watered & shipped to a facility no matter what the payer source.

The worst thing that sara palin did was start the "death panel" stuff...I agree many of these people would not want these heroic interventions but its taboo to talk about death

Is it on physicians? legislators? society?