The treatment doctors choose when given a terminal diagnosis

British medics share their reaction to Ken Murray’s essay on the treatment doctors choose when given a terminal diagnosis.

But some UK medical professionals feel Murray’s concern about futile treatments is amplified by the US medical system. Kevin Fong, a consultant anaesthetist, thinks that Murray’s characterisation of futile care is far too black-and-white: “It’s very difficult to define futility because that implies certainty; and certainty in medicine is very difficult to come by.”

“It’s a topic that isn’t talked about very often, and should be,” agrees Dr Clodagh Murphy, another GP, who practises in Northern Ireland. “Most people think there’s nothing worse than death – but we know that there is. That’s why it’s so difficult when you see an elderly patient with cancer; their natural instinct is to go for treatment, and you must respect that – but at the same time, you’re thinking, ‘So now you’re going to have an operation with a six-month recovery period, which might make the last three years of your life even more hellish than if you’d let the illness take its course.’ (Guardian) >


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