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AMA Policy on End-of-Life Care

Because of its mission to promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health, the AMA develops policies on how the health care system should be organized and how it should function. When people refer to "AMA policy," they are usually referring to the set of normative statements the Association has developed on health care issues and the health care system. They may also be referring to the set of statements the AMA has developed about its internal organizational structure and decision-making process (governance system) as well as medical science and technology.

PolicyFinder provides access to specific AMA policy concerning end-of-life care.

Opinion E-2.035 Futile Care
Physicians are not ethically obligated to deliver care that, in their best professional judgment, will not have a reasonable chance of benefiting their patients.

Opinion E-2.037 Medical Futility in End-of-Life Care
When further intervention to prolong the life of a patient becomes futile, physicians have an obligation to shift the intent of care toward comfort and closure.

Opinion E-2.17 Quality of Life
In the making of decisions for the treatment of seriously disabled newborns or of other persons who are severely disabled by injury or illness, the primary consideration should be what is best for the individual patient.

Opinion E-2.20 Withholding or Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Medical Treatment
The social commitment of the physician is to sustain life and relieve suffering. Where the performance of one duty conflicts with the other, the preferences of the patient should prevail.

Opinion E-2.21 Euthanasia
Euthanasia is the administration of a lethal agent by another person to a patient for the purpose of relieving the patient's intolerable and incurable suffering.

Opinion E-2.211 Physician-Assisted Suicide
Physician-assisted suicide occurs when a physician facilitates a patient's death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act.

Opinion E-2.22 Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders
Efforts should be made to resuscitate patients who suffer cardiac or respiratory arrest except when circumstances indicate that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) would be inappropriate or not in accord with the desires or best interests of the patient.

Opinion E-2.225 Optimal Use of Orders Not To Intervene and Advance Directives
More rigorous efforts in advance care planning are required in order to tailor end-of-life care to the preferences of patients so that they can experience a satisfactory last chapter in their lives.

Opinion E-8.081 Surrogate Decision Making
The following guidelines offer a process for determining who the decision maker should be for an individual who lacks decision-making capacity. They outline steps the designated decision maker should follow in making health care determinations on behalf of the patient. They identify resources for health care professionals and/or families in case of decision-making conflict.