Dr. Schneiderman on Cancer Drugs and Futility Policies
Lawrence J. Schneiderman, MD, professor emeritus, Medicine/Family & Preventive Medicine, University of California, San Diego (UCSD), discusses futility policies in relation to cancer drugs.
Schneiderman says that physicians can affect sick patients in many ways, but if the patient is too sick to benefit from a treatment, then that treatment should be declared futile.
At UCSD, there is a futility policy in place that states any treatment that does not have a reasonable chance of benefitting a patient should be considered futile and not obligatory. The American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics says all hospitals should have a futility policy, Schneiderman says.
Physicians are sometimes concerned that a patient, or, more likely, a family will demand a treatment. The fact remains, Schneiderman says, that a patient or family can refuse a treatment but cannot demand a treatment.