In response to the criticism of Schneiderman and colleagues (2017) that two recent policy statements of professional medical organizations referred to some medical treatment that were traditionally called “futile” by the terms “inappropriate” or “potentially inappropriate,” this critique accepts their claim challenging these terms as being hopelessly ambiguous. However, this critique rejects the conclusion they all share that clinicians or hospitals should have the unilateral authority to refuse to provide treatments that will plausibly achieve the end that the patient or surrogate is pursuing. Although clinicians should be presumed authoritative in deciding to reject treatments that will not achieve the patient or surrogate’s end, they should be obligated, provided five conditions are met, to provide those treatments that will achieve the patient or surrogate’s end. The implications of honoring a physician’s right to conscientious objection to treatments they deem “futile” are compared to physician claims of the right to refuse to provide contraceptive services on the same grounds.


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pp. 438-448
Launched on MUSE
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