Futility and the Law: Knowledge, Practice and Attitudes of Doctors in End of Life Care

QUT Law Review, Vol. 16(1), Pp. 54-75, 2016

22 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2016 Last revised: 23 Aug 2016

See all articles by Lindy Willmott

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Ben White

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Eliana Close

Queensland University of Technology

Cindy Gallois

University of Queensland

Malcolm Parker

University of Queensland - School of Medicine

Nicholas Graves

Queensland University of Technology

Sarah Winch

University of Queensland

Leonie Callaway

University of Queensland

Nicole Shepherd

Queensland University of Technology

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

Despite the potential harm to patients (and others) and the financial cost of providing futile treatment at the end of life, this practice occurs. This article reports on empirical research undertaken in Queensland that explores doctors’ perceptions about the law that governs futile treatment at the end of life, and the role it plays in medical practice. The findings reveal that doctors have poor knowledge of their legal obligations and powers when making decisions about withholding or withdrawing futile treatment at the end of life; their attitudes towards the law were largely negative; and the law affected their clinical practice and had or would cause them to provide futile treatment.

Keywords: Medical Law, Health Law, Withholding and Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Treatment, Futile Treatment, Futility, Doctors' Knowledge of Law, Doctors Attitudes to Law

Suggested Citation

Willmott, Lindy and White, Ben and Close, Eliana and Gallois, Cindy and Parker, Malcolm and Graves, Nicholas and Winch, Sarah and Callaway, Leonie and Shepherd, Nicole, Futility and the Law: Knowledge, Practice and Attitudes of Doctors in End of Life Care (2016). QUT Law Review, Vol. 16(1), Pp. 54-75, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2802399

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/willmott/

Ben White (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/whiteb/

Eliana Close

Queensland University of Technology ( email )

2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4000
Australia

Cindy Gallois

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Malcolm Parker

University of Queensland - School of Medicine ( email )

St Lucia
Queensland 4072
Australia

Nicholas Graves

Queensland University of Technology ( email )

2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4000
Australia

Sarah Winch

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Leonie Callaway

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Nicole Shepherd

Queensland University of Technology

2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4000
Australia

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