The issue of medical futility requires a well-defined process in which both sides of the dispute can be heard and a resolution reached in a fair and ethical manner. Procedural approaches to medical futility cases provide all parties involved with a process-driven framework for resolving these disputes. Medical paternalism or the belief in the absolute rightness of the medical model will not serve to resolve these disputes. Although medical futility is first determined by medicine, in order for the determination to meet legal criteria, it must be subject to review. The hope is that through a review process that meets legal criteria, the issue can be resolved without the need for court proceedings. If resolution cannot be obtained through this process, surrogates still have the right to seek court intervention. This issue is of relevance and importance in critical care nursing because of the role and position of critical care nurses, who have direct contact with patients and patients’ families, the potential for moral distress in cases of possibly futile treatment, and the expanding roles of nurses, including critical care nurses and advanced practice nurses, in management and policy development.

You do not currently have access to this content.