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When Doctors Say No. The Battleground of Medical Futility
  1. John Saunders
  1. Department of Medicine, Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny, Centre for Philosophy and Health Care, University of Wales, Swansea

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    Susan B Rubin, Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University Press, 1998, 191 pages, US$24.95.

    This book is a polemical monograph. It aims to demonstrate that “physicians would not be justified in refusing unilaterally to offer, provide, or continue treatment based on their opinion that the treatment in question would be futile”.

    Expressed in these terms, the central thesis of the book may sound unrealistic or even absurd to many busy practising doctors. Is this then just another piece of doctor bashing by an armchair philosopher? Even the title sounds ominous.

    In fact Rubin's thesis is more complex. For, as usual in futility debates, it all depends on what you mean by futility. After an introductory first chapter that sets the scene with a description of some publicly prominent cases and …

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