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When paediatricians and families can’t agree
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  • Published on:
    Prevention of conflict is better when there is no cure
    • Mich Lajeunesse, Consultant Paediatrician and Hospice Doctor Southampton Children's Hospital

    I was interested to read the articles in this month’s journal exploring the difficulties of end of life decisions when parents and their doctors cannot agree.(1–3) These articles reflect the global media attention focused upon several recent tragic cases in the UK, where differences in view between parents and the clinical team led to confrontation and an unfolding tragedy in the public arena. Whilst all these articles describe the complexity they offer little in terms of solutions. Is it possible to prevent future cases from degenerating into public dispute, or is it an inevitable consequence of modern medicine? Have we advanced to a point where children that would have succumbed now live, and so the focus of care has shifted towards how they live rather than if they live or die?

    At least part of the solution should be a shift in focus shift toward prevention of conflict in these high stakes clinical areas rather than finding a remedy once conflict has occurred. This is not just about being better at communicating with families. Conflict prevention will require cultural change, the identification of early warning signs and the use of mediation to facilitate communication between parents and doctors at an early stage.

    Communication is not just about what we say, but about how we act and the social networks that we live and work in. It was interesting that there was also an article on Family Integrated Care in the same issue of the journal (4). Patel and colle...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.