Rowan Thillaye-Kerr
Finding a point in pointless treatment: Medical futility and the purpose of medicine
Mentor: Dr. Negar Elmieh
What is merciful medicine? This presentation explores medical futility in end-of-life care—the stage in treatment where doctors deem “there’s nothing more we can do.” Administration of futile treatment is common, although many view it as a pointless waste of resources that results in prolonged suffering. I examine the reasons clinicians pursue futile treatments and weigh the possibility that they might have a point after all: to give patients and families enough time to absorb mortality on their own. In considering the case of medical futility, I also confront a larger question: what is the purpose of medicine?
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