Faith and Futility in the ICU

Hastings Center Report 45 (1):9-10 (2015)
  Copy   BIBTEX


James is a seventy‐two‐year‐old man with end‐stage dementia who was transferred from another hospital. At the time of transfer James had sepsis from two multidrug‐resistant organisms, respiratory failure requiring ventilatory support, renal insufficiency, pancytopenia, and hypotension requiring vasopressors. He has severe contractures and foot drop, has a feeding tube, and has been nonverbal for several months. His son, Paul, is requesting full code and treatment focused on recovery despite James's extremely poor prognosis.Paul is James's only child, and James's wife is deceased. Paul says he has the “gift of prophecy” and knows for certain when God is speaking to him. “God,” he says, “doesn't lie.” He says that he and his father spent years preaching together and have witnessed many healings. He believes that they are being “rebuked” because at a time when his father was too tired to travel much, they held fewer revivals and did not save enough souls.James's condition has worsened slowly. He has almost no urine output and does not breathe over the ventilator. He is extremely volume overloaded; his toenails have bloodied and popped off. By hospital‐day twenty‐one, he had only corneal reflexes. The medical team is troubled; if James is to stay on the ventilator, he will need a tracheostomy, but this would only further prolong what has already been an agonizingly prolonged dying process.Paul continues to pray for his father to get up.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,271

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Medical futility: a cross-national study.Alireza Bagheri - 2013 - New Jersey: Imperial College Press.
Pipes, Colanders, and Leaky Buckets: Reflections on the Futility Debate.John J. Paris - 1993 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 2 (2):147.
A Misunderstanding Concerning Futility.Tommaso Bruni & Charles Weijer - 2015 - American Journal of Bioethics 15 (7):59-60.
Futility, Conscientious Refusal, and Who Gets to Decide.J. K. Davis - 2008 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 33 (4):356-373.
The Concept of Futility in Medical Care.Benjamin Phillips - 1997 - Dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo
A broader look at medical futility.Wayne Shelton - 1998 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 19 (4):383-400.
Towards a just, courageous, and honest resolution of the futility debate.Rosemarie Tong - 1995 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 20 (2):165-189.


Added to PP

13 (#991,219)

6 months
4 (#754,937)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Gregory Bock
University of Texas At Tyler

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references