Futility as a Criterion in Limiting Treatment

M. Solomon, I. H. Lewis, R. Sneyd, A. B. Shaw, J. Gordon, O. W. Clarke, D. Orentlicher, R. D. Rieves, J. P. Freer, G. R. Scofield, R. D. Truog, A. S. Brett, J. E. Frader

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


To the Editor: In their Sounding Board article (June 4 issue),1 Truog et al. convincingly argue that the concept of futility is ill suited to be a rationale for limiting life-sustaining treatments: use of the concept too often obscures the value choices inherent in decisions to terminate treatment. As the authors put it, “the problem with futility is that its promise of objectivity can rarely be fulfilled.” Empirical research I conducted with physicians at a Harvard teaching hospital2 and experience working with doctors around the country3 bear out that conclusion and shed light on why the promise of objectivity is…

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1239-1241
Number of pages3
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number17
StatePublished - Oct 22 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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