Futility of medical treatment in current medical practice

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Abstract

Intensive care provides support for acute reversible organ failure and most patients who receive intensive care recover from their illness. In some patients organ failure may become irreversible and in these patients further treatment or organ support may be considered futile. Emerging technologies and expertise can enable the medical profession to prolong life/death indefinitely without curing or controlling the underlying disease process. Introduction of ultramodern organ supports such as extracorporeal life-support systems, ventricular assist devices and organ transplantation surgeries have introduced some degree of ambiguity in defining futility of care. Furthermore medico legal implications of futility of care introduce further complexities in defining and instituting futile treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-71
Number of pages14
JournalNew Zealand Medical Journal
Volume126
Issue number1383
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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