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Medical Futility Essay Sample

Medical Futility Free Essay Example

The broad ethical concept of medical futility as well as the question on who should define it has increasingly continued to be a matter of debate at levels which have resonated with earlier thinking of Hippocrates and Plato. This problem has made a common presence in the context of resource allocation such as organ transplant allocation. Sometimes patients are given organ transplants which do not have benefits to them. Instead, the organs transplants get rejected once the operation has been done and this may result to death (Jecker, 1998).

Medical futility refers to certain interventions which are likely to cause significant gains to the patients. Two forms of medical futility can be recognized: qualitative futility and quantitative futility.  Qualitative futility refers to situations where an intervention is expected to produce very poor quality benefit to patients while quantitative futility is when there is a poor likelihood that the medical interventions will surely benefit the patient. Examples of these interventions include the life-sustaining interventions particularly for patients in vegetative condition, use of chemotherapeutic treatments in terminal cancers, use of artificial hydration or antibiotics for patients with advanced illness and the resuscitation efforts for those who have potential life-threatening conditions (Jecker, 1998).

A number of medical implications surround the issue of medical futility. In deed the role of medicine should be to help the patients get over the illness and there should be no obligations to provide treatments which do not benefit the patients (Moon, 2002). These interventions are often ill advised and cause pain among patients. This has happened when doctors give organ transplants to patients without matching the blood type or performing tissue typing (Moon, 2002). The result is often graft rejection which can be fatal if the immune system is not silenced in time with proper medications such as cyclosporine.

To help solve problems related to medical futility, patients and their families should have a say on the interventions. It has become increasingly common that some doctors cannot be trusted as they perform procedures without following the medical codes.