Bill would require hospitals to disclose futility policies

Senator Sean Nienow (R-Cambridge) recently introduced a bill that requires hospitals to disclose their futility policies to the guardians of patients under the age of 18.

Senate File 2238 requires hospitals to report any policy they establish regarding medical futility to the parents of minor patients and to the commissioner of the Department of Health. A “futility policy” is the practice of withholding or encouraging to withhold the medical treatment on the grounds that such treatment is a waste of medical resources. Many hospitals have established futility policies that pre-determine care for patients with life-threatening injuries or illnesses.

“Most people assume that will have they will have rights when choosing treatment options in life and death situations,” Nienow said. “The truth is, many hospitals have pre-established policies that sometimes discourage parents from choosing to allow their child to fight for his or her life.”

Nienow recently drafted a letter to the major Twin Cities hospitals requesting that they disclose if they have a standing policy regarding medical futility.

“If my child was facing a major medical problem, I would want to be assured that the hospital was doing everything they possibly could to save his or her life,” Nienow added.