Two recent and unfortunate North American cases involving end-of-life treatment highlight the difficulties surrounding medical futility conflicts. As countries have explored the greater influence that patients and their representatives may play on end-of-life treatment decisions, the benefits and struggles involved with such a movement must be appreciated. These 2 cases are used to examine the present systems existing in the United States and Canada for resolving end-of-life decisions, including the difficulty in defining medical futility, the role of medical ethics committees, and controversies involving surrogate decision making.
Copyright © 2012 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.