Disagreements in the care of critically ill children

Bioethics Briefing Note

Published 03/04/2019

Disagreements in the care of critically ill children cover
Infant foot with IV line

To inform our discussions about the disagreements that can arise in the care of critically ill children, we commissioned two reviews of the literature and evidence relating to this area.

1. Disagreements in the care of critically ill children: emerging issues in a changing landscape

By Dr Neera Bhatia, Senior Lecturer in Law, Deakin University, School of Law, Melbourne, Australia

This review explores some of the challenges that are emerging in a changing healthcare landscape when disagreements occur between parents and healthcare professionals in the care and treatment of critically ill children. The key challenges for future legal, social and policy development that emerged from the literature are: (1) the role and impact of social media/internet in treatment decisions, (2) innovative treatments, and (3) child medical tourism.

2. UK processes for resolution of disagreements about the care of critically ill children

By Louise Austin, Centre for Ethics in Medicine and Centre for Health, Law and Society, University of Bristol

This review explores the effectiveness and appropriateness of UK processes for the resolution of disputes about the care of critically ill children. It focuses upon five mechanisms for resolution: discussions between families and clinicians; second-opinion experts; clinical ethics committees; mediation; and court proceedings.

Neera Bhatia and Louise Austin were advised in the writing of these reviews by Richard Huxtable, Giles Birchley and Jonathan Ives from the University of Bristol. Any views expressed in the reviews are the authors’ own and not those of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

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