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adj. describing an intervention that has little or no prospect of achieving its aim or intended purpose. In medical practice, claims of futility are often used to justify withholding or withdrawing medical treatment at the end of life. Claims that treatment is futile may be controversial because of the inherent uncertainty of prognoses, value judgments about quality of life, and contested therapeutic aims. Intensive care, for example, cannot be said to be futile simply on the grounds that the patient is unlikely to regain full health, since restoration of full health was never the intended purpose. —futilityn.

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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