Human Exceptionalism

The Ugly Discriminatory Face of Medical Futility

This story out of the UK illustrates the ugliness of medical futility. Under the theory, medicine is being devolved from a life-saving enterprise to a life-saving enterprise if we approve of your life’s quality. But if we don’t and you want to live (or your family wishes you to continue on)–then medicine becomes the decider that it is your time to die. From the story:

A couple fighting for their daughter’s right to live were yesterday celebrating her return home from hospital.Amber Hartland, six, suffers from Infantile Tay-Sachs, a rare incurable brain disorder that has left her paralysed.

She is back with her family after being treated in hospital for a chest infection. Doctors say it is time for Amber to die and are taking legal action to stop her going to intensive care again. Mr Hartland, of Cwmbran, SouthWales, said: “She should live while she’s comfortable.”

Can you imagine doctors suing to keep from having to treat a sick patient?
This isn’t the first time in the UK, either. When the parents of David Glass brought him to the ER for resuscitation, because the boy had developmental and physical disabilities, the doctors not only refused, but put him on an unnecessary morphine drip clearly intended to end his life. The parents saved their son’s life–no thanks to the doctors–and then sued for the right to have their son treated if there were another medical emergency. And the doctors won the right in court to say no!
The new theory seems to be that if you are going to die in a few months, why not get it over with? And if you don’t agree: Tough toenails. And they wonder why people are losing trust in medicine.


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