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Opinion 8.20 - Invalid Medical Treatment

The following general guidelines are offered to serve physicians when they are called upon to decide among treatments:

(1) Treatments which have no medical indication and offer no possible benefit to the patient should not be used (Opinion 2.035, "Futile Care").

(2) Treatments which have been determined scientifically to be invalid should not be used (Opinion 3.01, "Nonscientific Practitioners").

(3) Among the treatments that are scientifically valid, medically indicated, and offer a reasonable chance of benefit for patients, some are regulated or prohibited by law; physicians should comply with these laws. If physicians disagree with such laws, they should seek to change them.

(4) Among the various treatments that are scientifically valid, medically indicated, legal, and offer a reasonable chance of benefit for patients, the decision of which treatment to use should be made between the physician and patient. (I, III, IV)

Issued June 1998 based on the report "Invalid Medical Treatment," adopted December 1997.