Terminally Ill Infants, Parents and the Courts
Medicine and Law: World Association for Medical Law 2005 December; 24(4): 663-671
Parents sometimes demand 'full active treatment' for a terminally ill child, even against medical advice. They think that they should decide their child's best interests, not medical staff, who may conclude too readily that the child's life is 'not worth living'. Only parents who know and love their child can decide that. Doctors and nurses, on the other hand, feel they have the training and experience to assess the pain and distress of heroic measures and whether they are justified in cases where a child cannot survive, or will have profound disability. This paper reviews recent case law in the United Kingdom and Australia on the role and processes of courts where a hospital (or a parent) applies for a court order regarding treatment. The author concludes that it is possible but unlikely that a court would direct medical staff to provide treatment they regard as clinically inappropriate.
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Skene, Loane (1993)Conclusion: At present [in Australia], neither the medical profession nor the law gives sufficient guidance to doctors and parents when making decisions about treatment for critically ill newborns. This lack of guidance places ...