Posted on Sep 10, 2013

Most people are aware that if a patient is in the ICU that means they are incredibly sick if not fatally ill. It is the hospital’s duty to provide them with treatment that could possibly reduce any pain they might be experiencing. But a new report shows that many of the supposedly pain reducing treatments given to ICU patients are actually futile and mainly administered so that hospitals can turn a profit.

This article by Bloomberg explores a new study that shows many ICU treatments are expensive and superfluous. Some of the treatments are actually being reported as increasing pain. Eleven percent of the ICU patients used in the study received futile treatments and died after six months of being in the hospital. Researchers said, “The cost of the treatment was $2.6 million over three months.”

The study went on to show that patients and family members should pay attention to what treatment hospitals are actually administering. The study found, “That 123 patients, or 11 percent, received futile treatment or probably futile treatment, 98 patients, or 8.6 percent, received probably futile treatment and 904 patients, or 80 percent, received necessary treatment. Treatments were considered futile if the burden of the care outweighed its benefits, the patients goals couldn’t be achieved, which varied by patient, death was imminent, the patient couldn’t survive outside of the intensive care unit and the patient was permanently unconscious.”

The standard utilized by the study is helpful for other patients or families who want to test whether the treatments they or their family members are receiving are actually helpful. More and more hospitals are being urged to enlist ethical policies that would prevent futile treatment from being utilized. Many are saying that it would be better to have end of life discussions with the families rather than continue with unnecessary, expensive treatments.  

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Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer