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Definition of "Life-Sustaining Treatment" in New Jersey

Posted Dec 12 2012 10:01pm
Last year, New Jersey defined “life-sustaining treatment” as "the use of any medical device or procedure, artificially provided fluids and nutrition, drugs, surgery, or therapy that uses mechanical or other artificial means to sustain, restore, or supplant a vital bodily function, and thereby increase the expected life span of a patient."  N.J. Stat. Ann. 26:2H-131.

This means that physiologically futile interventions do not even qualify as life-sustaining treatment.  CPR for a patient in whom it will not restore circulation is not life-sustaining treatment for that patient, even though the same procedure might be life-sustaining treatment for another patient.

But such a definition also implies that the end of "increasing the expected life span of a patient" is in and of itself a worthy end of medicine.  

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