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July 17, 1996

Wrong Medicine: Doctors, Patients, and Futile Treatment

Author Affiliations

Evanston Hospital Evanston, Ill

JAMA. 1996;276(3):253-254. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540030087043

The impetus for this book, according to its authors, was "the desire to restore a vision of medicine's proper ends and [to] reform medical practice." The book does not completely attain these lofty ideals, but it does present to its readers (members of the medical profession and the lay public) a well-reasoned analysis of the concept of futility in medical practice.

The book comprises 10 short chapters which, in logical sequence, discuss and define the meaning and the ethical implications of medical futility. The chapter titles give the flavor of the book: "Are Doctors Supposed to be Doing This?" "Why It Is Hard To Say No," "Why We Must Say No," "Families Who Want Everything Done," "Futility and Rationing," "Medical Futility in a Litigious Society," "Ethical Implications of Medical Futility," "The Way It Is Now/ The Way It Ought To Be: For Patients," "The Way it is Now/The Way It