Reason-Giving and Medical Futility: Contrasting Legal and Social Discourse in the United States with the United Kingdom and Ontario, Canada

Chest. 2016 Sep; 150(3): 714-21

Posted: 31 Dec 2016

See all articles by Thaddeus Mason Pope

Thaddeus Mason Pope

Mitchell Hamline School of Law; Queensland University of Technology - Australian Health Law Research Center; Saint Georges University; Alden March Bioethics Institute

Gabriel Bosslet

Indiana University - School of Medicine

Mary Baker

Sentara Healthcare

Date Written: December 29, 2016

Abstract

Disputes regarding life-prolonging treatments are stressful for all parties involved. These disagreements are appropriately almost always resolved with intensive communication and negotiation. Those rare cases that are not require a resolution process that ensures fairness and due process.

We describe three recent cases from different countries (the United States, United Kingdom, and Ontario, Canada) to qualitatively contrast the legal responses to intractable, policy-level disputes regarding end-of-life care in each of these countries. In so doing, we define the continuum of clinical and social utility among different types of dispute resolution processes and emphasize the importance of public reason-giving in the societal discussion regarding policy-level solutions to end-of-life treatment disputes.

We argue that precedential, publicly available, written rulings for these decisions most effectively help to move the social debate forward in a way that is beneficial to clinicians, patients, and citizens. This analysis highlights the lack of such rulings within the United States.

Keywords: medical futility, end-of-life, non-beneficial treatment, autonomy, informed consent, transparency

JEL Classification: K13, I18

Suggested Citation

Pope, Thaddeus Mason and Bosslet, Gabriel and Baker, Mary, Reason-Giving and Medical Futility: Contrasting Legal and Social Discourse in the United States with the United Kingdom and Ontario, Canada (December 29, 2016). Chest. 2016 Sep; 150(3): 714-21. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2891556

Thaddeus Mason Pope (Contact Author)

Mitchell Hamline School of Law ( email )

875 Summit Avenue
Room 320
Saint Paul, MN 55105
United States
651-695-7661 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.thaddeuspope.com

Queensland University of Technology - Australian Health Law Research Center ( email )

2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4000
Australia

Saint Georges University ( email )

West Indies
Grenada

HOME PAGE: http://www.thaddeuspope.com

Alden March Bioethics Institute ( email )

47 New Scotland Ave
MC 153
Albany, NY 12208
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.thaddeuspope.com

Gabriel Bosslet

Indiana University - School of Medicine ( email )

340 W 10th St #6200
100 South Woodlawn
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

Mary Baker

Sentara Healthcare ( email )

6015 Poplar Hall Drive
Suite 300
Norfolk, VA 23502
United States

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