Futile Treatment in the ICU Puts Other Patients at Risk
Los Angeles, CA - Providing futile treatment in the intensive care unit sets off a chain reaction that causes other ill patients needing medical attention to wait for critical care beds, according to a study by researchers from UCLA and RAND Health.
The study is the first to show that when unbeneficial medical care is provided, others who might be able to benefit from treatment are harmed, said study lead author Dr. Thanh Huynh, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
The findings also have implications for the fairness of the American healthcare system, and points toward needed policy improvements to more efficiently use limited healthcare resources, said senior author Dr. Neil S. Wenger, a UCLA professor of medicine, a RAND Health scientist and director of the UCLA Health Ethics Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
“Many people do not realize that there is a tension between what medicine is able to do and what medicine should do. Even fewer realize that medicine is commonly used to achieve goals that most people, and perhaps most of society, would not value – such as prolonging the dying process in the intensive care unit when a patient cannot improve,” Wenger said. “But almost no one recognizes that these actions affect other patients, who might receive delayed care or, worse, not receive needed care at all because futile medical treatment was provided to someone else.” Continue>
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