- G. T. Laurie, G. T. LaurieProfessor of Medical Jurisprudence at the University of Edinburgh
- S. H. E. HarmonS. H. E. HarmonHonorary Fellow in the School of Law at the University of Edinburgh
- and E. S. DoveE. S. DoveLecturer in Risk and Regulation at the University of Edinburgh
This chapter begins with a discussion of the concept of medical futility. It examines cases dealing with selective non-treatment of the newborn and selective non-treatment in infancy. The chapter argues that while concepts such as ‘futility’ and ‘best interests’ have strong normative appeal, the search for objectivity in their application may itself be a futile exercise. The reality is that decision-makers are involved in a value-laden process, and this is no less true when the decision is taken in a court rather than at the patient’s bedside. The chapter then considers the issue of end of life, examining cases of patients in a permanent vegetative state and those in a minimally conscious state.