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Posted on September 2, 2019 at 4:00 AM

In Canada, Health Professional Appeal and Review Boards review disciplinary decisions from the Colleges of Physicians & Surgeons which are the equivalent of U.S. state medical boards. Over the past few weeks, these boards have published several judgments relating to medical futility.

At the end of July 2019, the British Columbia HPARB affirmed the College’s decision not to impose discipline on two physicians who transferred a patient from the ICU.

The son of the 79-year-old patient agreed to a DNR order, but thought that other life-sustaining treatment was still effective. Yet all 10 physicians who had cared for the patient during 2 months in the ICU determined that such measures had “no therapeutic utility” for the patient who was in multi-system organ failure. The physicians determined that only a comfort-focused approach was appropriate.

The College and HPARB told the complainant (the patient’s son) that no clinician withdrew any therapy that would would been appropriate for the patient’s worsening medical situation. Neither the College nor the HPARB addressed the patient’s claim that the withdrawal violated the patient’s religion.

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