“Under any new system of health care delivery, as at present, it will be far less costly to give a lethal injection than to care for a patient throughout the dying process.
The current debate about medical futility reflects, in part, the extent to which the cost of treatment is viewed as relevant to decisions at the bedside. Some physicians have argued that they should determine when the benefits of treatment are too low to justify the cost in order to allocate health care resources. To date, the futility debate has focused on certain aggressive treatments, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or on continued treatment for certain patients, such as those who are permanently unconscious. But once a decision is made not to pursue cure or treatment, and assisted suicide and euthanasia are available, the economic logic will be inescapable. The care provided to dying or very ill patients, not just their treatment, is expensive and demanding for health care professionals. The extra weeks or months of caring for patients who do not opt for assisted suicide or euthanasia will seem all the more ‘futile’ and costly.”Apr. 2011