This note will provide an analysis of the issue of medical futility and propose "solutions" to the issue. Part II considers the definition of "medical futility" and different ways to view the concept. In Part III, the position is forwarded that medical futility is a question of values which the medical profession is not necessarily more qualified than a layperson to answer. In Part IV, medical futility will be examined in the context of existing law. This section also addresses the potential tort liability of a health care provider who unilaterally takes certain actions based on the concept of medical futility, as well as the potential constitutional challenges that may be advanced by a patient or her family. This section also suggests that the courts should recognize a common law right to self-determination which would permit patients to continue on life support. Finally, Part V presents "solutions" to the conundrum of medical futility. Because of the intricate emotional and value laden issues surrounding medical futility, it is concluded that the issue of medical futility can best be addressed and resolved by communication between all the parties involved. Consequently, each solution is focused on requiring open communication from the parties. If the medical community is unable or unwilling to establish procedures for communication regarding medical futility, the legislature should establish procedures for handling medical futility confrontations. This note recommends a statutory framework to provide the best legislative solution to the issue.
Daniel Robert Mordarski,
Medical Futility: Has Ending Life Support Become the Next Pro-Choice/Right to Life Debate,
41 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol41/iss4/6