Intended for healthcare professionals



BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 19 August 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3320

How do relatives or other surrogate decision makers view the use of the “futility rationale” to limit life sustaining treatments in patients? A study in three American hospitals found that 64% of surrogate decision makers expressed doubt about the accuracy of the futility predictions offered by doctors and 32% of surrogates elected to continue life support despite a less than 1% chance of survival. In addition, 18% of surrogate decision makers elected to continue treatment when the doctor thought the patient had no chance of survival. People with religious objections were more likely to request continued life support than those with secular or experiential objections (Chest 2009;136:110-7; doi:10.1378/chest.08-2753).

Severed spinal nerves can be anatomically reconnected in rats, according to Nature Neuroscience (published online 2 August 2009; doi:10.1038/nn.2365). Previous attempts to reconnect neuronal connections between the body and brain of rats failed because the nerves didn’t reach their correct target sites in the brain. Now researchers have developed a method of using a naturally occurring molecule that attracts growing nerves, together with grafted bone marrow cells to act as a cellular “bridge” for regenerating the nerve tract. They …

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