Limits to Life-Sustaining Treatment

What are the possibilities here? At first thought, we might think of this as a "yes" or "no" question - to limit treatment or not to limit it. But things are much more complicated than this. There are a variety of ways of approaching limits to treatment. The moral status of this variety is what the controversy is all about - can one of these be morally acceptable whereas one or more others are morally wrong? Might one be MORE wrong than another? Let's first think about how they differ. Then, in the reading assignments in this unit, we will engage the debate about moral assessment of them.

Among the possibilities are:
0. Unstinting aggressive treatment
1. Treat with all "ordinary" measures, but withhold "extraordinary" measures
2. Withhold "ordinary" treatment
3. Withdraw "ordinary" treatment
4. Take an action that directly causes the death of the patient

5. Take an action that may indirectly cause the death of the patient
6. Provide the patient the means to kill himself/herself

Nurse adjusts IV at bedside

Created by Glenn C. Graber - last updated March 8, 2003
Main Menu -//- Who | How | Where | Why | When -\\-

0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6