Futile Treatment



Accordingto Li (2012), futile treatment is not an issue of white or blackconcept. It is a complex composite of life quality issues that shouldbe addressed before diagnosis either with the patient or their legalnext of kin. Futile treatment is the continuation of medical careeven when there are minimal or no hopes for the patient’s survival.

Li(2012) states the concept of futile treatment is a difficult choiceboth to the clinician with health-care experience, as well as to themedically untrained families of the patient. Unfortunately, there areno protocols set to indicate when to continue or withdraw treatment.Normally, health care, patients and their families have differingideas when it comes to withdrawing or withholding futile treatment.Based on the bioethics four principles, the public opt forbeneficence whereby the patient should continue with the treatmentuntil the end. On the contrary, health care providers think toprevent further suffering it would be fine to withdraw treatment asearly as possible.

“Therapeuticuse of self” is an ethical principle most appropriate to make adecision whether to withdraw or withhold futile treatment. Thisconcept helps the patient and their family members to understand theconcept of futile treatment and its disadvantages. It lessens anxietyand fear, give necessary information, and provide reassurance. Li(2012) states the principle fit best when there is a limited effectof the treatment in the disease process, and patient become worse. Insome cases, treatment does not have a significant impact on patientrecovery hence, withdrawal is a favor to palliative care. However,most families fear to blame themselves later that they consented totheir patient death hence, prefer to watch them die.


Li,M. (2012). Dealing with futile treatment: A medical student’sperspective. AMSJ,&nbsp3(2),8-60.