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Another ethical dilemma in neonatology
  1. S A Ahmed,
  2. A Arasu
  1. Neonatology, Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS Trust, Luton, UK


Aim To ascertain parents attitude, knowledge and awareness of the type of Surfactant used in the Tertiary Neonatal unit to treat Respiratory Distress Syndrome and religious limitations.

Method This is a pilot project. We sent e-mail surveys through the Survey Monkey website to all the staff in a District General Hospital with a surfactant survey questionnaire that we devised seeking their opinion as a parent. We did not seek the opinion from parents in the neonatal unit as they may perceive that the clinical management of their babies would be influenced.

Result We received 151 responses of which 63% are female and 37% are males. Of the respondents 70% have children. The majority of the people who responded were Christian (62%), 24% did not disclose their religion, 8% were Muslim and 6% of the respondents were Hindu. More than half of the responses were from non-medical staff (55%).Of the respondents, 23% were doctors and 22% were nursing staff. Almost 3/4th (74%) responded that the neonatal unit should stock different types of surfactant and 79% responded that there should be discussions antenatal regarding the type of surfactant utilised in premature babies after birth. Approximately 11% preferred either bovine or porcine surfactant based on religious beliefs, 36% preferred non-animal derived surfactant products and 53% had no preference.

Conclusion In the current multicultural society with diversity of the UK, it is necessary to consider the religious beliefs of all patients and parents. There is always a medico legal implications in the ethical issues surrounding patient care. Paediatricians and neonatologists must respect patients' and parents' autonomy and beliefs and they must be given sufficient information in a way that is comprehensible and are able to exercise their rights to make informed decisions about the care of their babies.

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