An Objective Approach to Decisions to Withdraw or Withhold Life-sustaining Medical Treatment

Title

An Objective Approach to Decisions to Withdraw or Withhold Life-sustaining Medical Treatment

Creator

Savulescu J; Cameron J

Publisher

Journal of Law and Medicine

Date

2019

Subject

Australia; best interests; child; Child; Decision Making; England; futility; Humans; life-sustaining treatment; New Zealand; parens patriae; Preschool; Wales; withdrawing treatment; withholding treatment; Withholding Treatment

Description

Courts in England and Wales, Australia, and New Zealand have insisted the question of when it is acceptable to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining medical treatment from a child must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Over the last 40 years a number of cases have considered whether treatment is objectively in the child's best interests. This article seeks to identify whether there are factors identified and weighed in a consistent manner across cases. Thirty cases involving decisions about the provision of life-sustaining medical treatment to children three years old or younger were identified. Judges regularly refer to the need to weigh benefits and burdens and these factors were identified and assigned scores. Eight key factors were identified, and a scoring range was assigned to each. The factors focus on the condition and position of the child and the burdens of invasive medical treatment. The review demonstrates there are factors consistently identified and despite criticisms of the indeterminacy of the best interests test, there may be a broadly consistent approach to decision-making. Cognitive capacity and unavoidably imminent death appear to be the two most influential factors in determining whether life-sustaining treatment should be provided.

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

January 2020 List

Collection

Citation

Savulescu J; Cameron J, “An Objective Approach to Decisions to Withdraw or Withhold Life-sustaining Medical Treatment,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed February 4, 2023, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/16875.

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