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‘Best interests’ in paediatric intensive care: an empirical ethics study
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  • Published on:
    Is limiting parental authority the answer?

    The authors conclude here that when withdrawing treatment in PICU is considered parents' refusal
    to consent can cause additional suffering as clinicians tend to extend burdensome treatment beyond
    what they think is reasonable to allow parents time to reconsider. Moreover, both parents and
    clinicians try to avoid approaching the courts for a decision.
    On the basis of these findings the authors suggest that limiting parental authority by using the concept of parental assent instead of consent could lead to an expeditious resolution in cases of disagreement and should be the focus of further research.
    This suggestion is not supported by the parental quotes used in this article. Indeed, one of the parent's objection to a court decision stems from his opinion that the decisions regarding withdrawal of treatment should be the domain of the parents. Limiting parental authority might therefore lead to increased adversarial relationships between the treating team and parents especially when parental views are overruled.
    Some quotes in this article as well as other research show that parents at the end of their child's life need time to
    often extensively research alternative treatments 'because you just need to have looked and
    exhausted every avenue'. Rather than limiting parental authority, it may thus be better to start the
    discussion regarding end of life care, including withholding treatment earlier....

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.