ETHICAL Dilemma: Medical Futility


Suitable for all levels. Short, versatile format that emphasizes the “art” and ethical aspects of practice.

Help your students care and act more like a nurse with a patient who is in ICU and the nurse has concerns about medical futility.

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Overview of Dilemma

This scenario highlights the ethical dilemma of medical futility when Mavis remains in ICU on a ventilator as a result of respiratory failure. She also has dementia and terminal cancer. The family is unwilling to consider withdrawing life support and one of the members is openly antagonistic and is not afraid to question and confront nurses about what he thinks is best for his mother.

Key Components:

1. Develop “art” of Nursing

  • By emphasizing importance of caring, compassion, and spiritual care.

2. Develop Ethical Decision Making

  • By applying ethical decision making to real-life dilemmas of practice.

3. Develop Professional Behaviors

  • By emphasizing how a nurse acts as a nursing professional.

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