Medical miracles

It’s a problem that medical providers often face: patients near the end of their lives request treatments that their physicians think are medically inappropriate, or futile.  The problem becomes even thornier when the patients request futile treatment because they believe in the healing power of prayer and are hoping for a religious miracle, according to Teneille Brown, a professor at S.J. Quinney College of Law who has researched the issue and earlier this year published a paper titled “Accomodating Miracles.” Most states have passed medical futility statutes that allow physicians to unilaterally discontinue futile treatments. However, physicians are generally quite uncomfortable invoking these statutes, especially if the life support, chemotherapy, or feeding tubes are requested in order to give the patient more time to pray for a miracle, Brown’s research has found.  Under the religious freedom protections of the federal and state governments, what are the doctors legally allowed to do?  Do these medical futility statutes violate principles of religious freedom? Brown is available to speak about these issues and how they relate to her research.
Teneille Brown | Phone: 801-581-5883 | Email: Teneille.Brown@utah.edu