Life-prolonging treatments that are not regarded as beneficial (i.e. they do nothing to promote recovery or relieve suffering) and that may even be burdensome to the patient. It has been argued that there is no moral obligation to prolong life and/or to impose greater suffering by extraordinary means. ‘Extraordinary’ does not mean unusual: treatments that are considered routine may be classed as extraordinary when they are no longer clinically effective or are considered futile. Another way to describe the appropriateness of such interventions is to talk of ‘proportionate’ and ‘disproportionate’ means. See artificial nutrition and hydration.
Subjects: Medicine and Health.