Treatments or medical interventions that are unlikely to produce any significant benefit for the patient is known as "medical futility" (Jecker). The intervention may be deemed futile if it has no likelihood of improving the patients condition (Quantitative), or when the improvement will be so minimal as to be considered futile (Qualitative) (Jecker). In both cases the prospect of improving the patient's condition is exceedingly poor. Jecker notes that, "...treatment that merely produces a physiological effect on a patient's body does not necessarily confer any benefit that the patient can appreciate". Though there may be physiological changes in the body, if it does not save the patient or reduce the suffering, it is futile.
The ethics of medical futility are rooted in the belief that medicine is for the purpose of healing the sick and comforting those that are in pain. Futile interventions often contribute to increased pain and agony as well as expending scarce medical and financial resources (Jecker). Ethical problems arise in defining the terms surrounding the issue. While a medical treatment may be deemed as futile, it may extend the patient's life by the few hours necessary that a family requires to get closure with the dying patient.