The absence of a useful purpose or useful result in a diagnostic procedure or therapeutic intervention. The situation of a patient whose condition will not be improved by treatment or instances in which treatment preserves permanent unconsciousness or cannot end dependence on intensive medical care. (From Ann Intern Med 1990 Jun 15;112(12):949)
Withholding or withdrawal of a particular treatment or treatments, often (but not necessarily) life-prolonging treatment, from a patient or from a research subject as part of a research protocol. The concept is differentiated from REFUSAL TO TREAT, where the emphasis is on the health professional's or health facility's refusal to treat a patient or group of patients when the patient or the patient's representative requests treatment. Withholding of life-prolonging treatment is usually indexed only with EUTHANASIA, PASSIVE, unless the distinction between withholding and withdrawing treatment, or the issue of withholding palliative rather than curative treatment, is discussed.