Friday, March 22, 2013

Comparing British and American Approaches to Medical Futility

Elizabeth Dzeng has a nice article in today's Independent comparing British and American approaches to medical futility.  Here are two brief excerpts:

"Unlike the US, here in the UK the ultimate decision regarding resuscitation lies with the doctor. The UK General Medical Council stipulates that doctors are not obligated to provide treatments at the end of life, including resuscitation, that would not be clinically appropriate or of overall benefit. . . .  [P]atients may not demand treatments that physicians believe would be futile or would not result in a meaningful prolongation of life."

"I feel that the UK is at a crossroads in much the same way that the US was several decades ago. High profile court cases surrounding patient rights at the end of life catalyzed a set of changes, which led to America’s current system of aggressive treatments at all costs regardless of futility or clinical common sense. I encourage my British colleagues to looking across the pond to the US as a cautionary tale of how these decisions impact our ability to serve in the best interest of our patients."

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