Conferences & Symposia

Medical Futility & Maryland Law


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Medical Futility & Maryland Law
Southern Maryland Corporation Campus Center
Room 349
University of Maryland
621 W. Lombard St., Baltimore, MD
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
In Partnership with Harbor Hospital
Support provided by
The Judge Martin Greenfeld Bioethics Fund

Passed in 1993, the Maryland Health Care Decisions Act (HCDA) addresses various aspects of end-of-life medical decision-making, including when treatments may be withheld or withdrawn from patients at the end of life. Two provisions in the Act allow physicians to withhold or withdraw treatments considered "medically ineffective" or "ethically inappropriate," as long as specified due process procedures are followed. Yet, according to a Dartmouth survey, Maryland rates among the highest for intensity of medical care for Medicare beneficiaries in the last six months of life. Debate has ensued among some lawyers, risk managers, and health care professionals in Maryland surrounding what constitutes "medically ineffective" or "ethically inappropriate" treatment, and how to proceed if a surrogate decision-maker does not agree with a physician's determination to withhold or withdraw treatment based on these criteria.

The morning plenary sessions will define medical futility and related concepts (i.e., treatments considered "medically ineffective," "ethically inappropriate," or "non-beneficial"), and explore their role and that of Maryland state law in providing good end-of-life care that does not waste critical care resources. The afternoon sessions will include small group discussions about whether revisions should be made to Maryland's HCDA, or whether education is needed as to how these laws should be interpreted.

THE MARYLAND HEALTHCARE ETHICS COMMITTEE NETWORK is a membership organization established by the Law and Health Care Program at the University of Maryland School of Law. Its purpose is to facilitate and enhance ethical reflection in all aspects of decision making in health care settings by supporting and providing informational and educational resources to ethics committees serving health care institutions in the state of Maryland. The Network works to achieve this goal by:

  • serving as a resource to ethics committees as they investigate ethical dilemmas within their institution and as they strive to assist their institution function consistently with its mission statement;
  • fostering communication and information sharing among Network members;
  • providing educational programs for ethics committee members, other healthcare providers, and members of the general public on ethical issues in health care; and
  • conducting research to improve the functioning of ethics committees and ultimately the care of patients in Maryland.

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NOTE: MHECN typically applies for CMEs for physicians and CEUs for nurses and social workers for its conferences. Check this website for updates on CME/CEU approvals.


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UM | About This Site | Site Map | Contact Us


500 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-1786 PHONE: (410) 706-7214 FAX: (410) 706-4045 / TDD: (410) 706-7714

Copyright © 2014, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. All Rights Reserved