Resolution of futility by due process: early experience with the Texas Advance Directives Act

Ann Intern Med. 2003 May 6;138(9):743-6. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-138-9-200305060-00011.


Every U.S. state has developed legal rules to address end-of-life decision making. No law to date has effectively dealt with medical futility--an issue that has engendered significant debate in the medical and legal literature, many court cases, and a formal opinion from the American Medical Association's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs. In 1999, Texas was the first state to adopt a law regulating end-of-life decisions, providing a legislatively sanctioned, extrajudicial, due process mechanism for resolving medical futility disputes and other end-of-life ethical disagreements. After 2 years of practical experience with this law, data collected at a large tertiary care teaching hospital strongly suggest that the law represents a first step toward practical resolution of this controversial area of modern health care. As such, the law may be of interest to practitioners, patients, and legislators elsewhere.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Advance Directives / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Civil Rights / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Ethics Committees
  • Ethics, Institutional
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Medical Futility / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Texas