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Editor's Correspondence
January 8, 2001

Abuse of Futility

Arch Intern Med. 2001;161(1):128-130. doi:

Although we applaud Curtis et al1 for bringing data along with opinions to the futility debate, we are concerned about the way they have misrepresented our position on medical futility. The authors present a scenario in which a patient with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) with a prognosis of less than 3 months to live is admitted to the hospital with severe pneumonia. The patient is having difficulty breathing without the ventilator, but the physician considers withholding mechanical ventilation because the patient would be "very unlikely to get off the life support machine alive."1 The authors consider this an example of medical futility.

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