What Are The Limits Of Parental Authority? Pediatric Bioethics And The Law.

Title

What Are The Limits Of Parental Authority? Pediatric Bioethics And The Law.

Creator

Johnson LM; Steuer K; Campbell A; Baker J

Identifier

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2015.12.291

Publisher

Journal Of Pain And Symptom Management

Date

2016

Description

Objectives
Distinguish between the ‘‘best interest standard’’
and ‘‘the harm principle’’ in the evaluation of familial
medical decision making in pediatrics and
analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Identify key legal cases in pediatrics and explain
their impact on practice standards for clinicians
providing medical care to children.
Understanding the intersection of bioethics and the
law is essential for providers caring for complex or
chronically ill children. Medical decision making has
shifted from a paternalistic model to one in which
capitated adults are allowed wide license to make
medical decisions for themselves. In adhering to this
model, clinicians sometimes have to allow decisions
that might be considered ‘‘the wrong decision’’ or a
‘‘bad decision,’’ given the belief that adult patients
have the right to autonomous medical decision
making.
Infants and children lack the ability to make autonomous
medical decisions and parents are allowed broad
discretion in medical decision making because we
believe parents have the right to manage the liberty interests
of their children. In our society, we believe it is
a parental responsibility to promote their children’s
best interests and minimize harms. Parents are given
significant leeway to make decisions they believe are
consistent with the beliefs and values of their family
unit. Children develop maturity to participate in medical
decision making as they age, creating a triangle of
decision making between patient, parent, and provider,
which may raise additional complexities.
Respect for the autonomy of the family unit in regard
to medical decision making is not absolute. State intervention
may be required when parental decision making
is perceived to significantly violate a child’s best
interest or put them at risk of serious harm. The decision
to make a referral to child protective services or
to pursue a court order in this context of concern
for medical neglect is often distressing to families
and providers. Certain paradigm legal cases such as
that of Prince v Massachusetts or the Baby Doe cases
provide guidance to clinicians who encounter ethical
dilemmas while caring for a pediatric patient. Understanding
the intersection of bioethics and the law is
essential for providers caring for complex or chronically
ill children.

Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. PedPalASCNET does not hold any rights over the resource listed here. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Citation List Month

March 2016 List

Citation

Johnson LM; Steuer K; Campbell A; Baker J, “What Are The Limits Of Parental Authority? Pediatric Bioethics And The Law.,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed December 8, 2021, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/10585.

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