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Handbook for Mortals : Forgoing Medical Treatment

Trial of treatment

Artificial treatments are often very effective. Many people are alive today because they had a spell of sickness, and a machine to provide nutrition, water, or air got them through. Indeed, when there is any doubt about whether a treatment will improve comfort or quality of life, a time-limited trial is often very useful. Trying a treatment for a reasonable period of time allows you to see if there is a benefit to using the treatment. The key is to define the time limit and the expected benefits before starting the treatment. That way, everyone will know when the situation will be reassessed and what benefits should be present to consider the treatment useful.

Some people worry that once they start a treatment, they will not be able to stop it. Legally and ethically, not starting and stopping are seen as equal actions. If a treatment is not improving comfort or quality of life, then there is no reason to continue it.

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