Ethical dilemma: When medical advances can prolong a patient's life even when there is no hope

In an opinion piece for CNN, Jacquelyn Corley, M.D., a neurological surgery resident at Duke University Medical Center, writes about her experience caring for a patient who was braindead but whose partner wanted doctors to continue medical treatment. One problem, she writes, is that medicine is so good that doctors can keep people alive in ways once thought impossible. However, there comes a time when the quality of life must also be considered, she says. "Doctors, nurses and others who devote their lives to taking care of very sick patients see it happen all the time: A patient's time has come, but the family just can't let go," she writes. And the family asks patients to take intensive measures that doctors would never want for themselves. Commentary