Futility: a concept in search of a definition.

Ronald Cranford, Lawrence Gostin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The simplistic concepts of futility and autonomy, then, cannot adequately inform society about the kinds of health care services that are appropriately provided to patients. Health care professionals, patients, and their surrogates are left with the arduous but necessary task of communicating effectively and of searching for an equitable resolution to the treatment conflict. With these introductory remarks to help frame the discussion, we invite you to read LMHC's mini-symposium on futility [articles by Steven H. Miles; Betty Dew; Kathryn A. Koch, Bruce W. Myers and Stephen Sandroni; Ann Alpers and Bernard Lo; Edward R. Grant; and Troyen A. Brennan], and to decide for yourself about this relatively new, extremely important, but also highly dangerous, concept of medical futility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-309
Number of pages3
JournalLaw, medicine & health care : a publication of the American Society of Law & Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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