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Abstract

This issue of the Report is bookended by two pieces that take contrasting although perhaps compatible positions on medical care for those in dire straits. At the end of the issue is an article that considers whether patients may be denied admission to intensive care units on grounds that they are too sick to benefit. We think of ICUs as reserved for the sickest of the sick, notes author Andrew Courtwright, but in fact, “too sick to benefit” is an increasingly common reason given for not putting a patient in the ICU. Meanwhile, the first essay in the book tells the story of a man whose physician more or less told him he was too sick to benefit (under some understanding of the idea) and should opt for death.