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Virginia to Clarify and Limit its Futile Treatment Law

Posted Jan 17 2011 1:28pm
For nearly two decades Virginia law has provided that "Nothing in this article shall be construed to require a physician to prescribe or render health care to a patient that the physician determines to be medically or ethically inappropriate. . . . If the conflict remains unresolved, the physician shall make a reasonable effort to transfer the patient to another physician who is willing to comply with the request of the patient, . . . a reasonable time of not less than fourteen days to effect such transfer. During this period, the physician shall continue to provide any life-sustaining care to the patient . . . ."  (Va. Code 54.1-2990).   I discussed this provision in the context of a Virginia futility dispute here

A bill filed this week ( HB 2068 ) would amend this statute by making the above section subject to the following:  "For purposes of this section, medical treatment shall not be deemed medically or ethically inappropriate on the basis of a view (i) that values extending the life of a younger, nondisabled individual who is not terminally ill more than extending the life of an elderly, disabled, or terminally ill individual or (ii) different from that of the patient, or the individual authorized to act on the patient's behalf, on the tradeoff between extending the length of the patient's life and the risk of disability."
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