According to the Guttmacher Report on Public Policy, current laws in the United States of America indicate that minors under the age of eighteen, unless medically emancipated, must have the medical consent of their parent or parents before any health care decision can be made (Boonstra & Nash, 2000). These laws do not include health sensitive medical care like prescriptions for contraception, abortion of fetus, pregnancy care or drug addiction rehabilitation. Pediatric nurses are in a unique position that serves as the facilitator of patient care and patient care decision-making between the pediatric patient and the patient’s parents. In this position, pediatric nurses become immersed in the concept of family-centered care, and because of this, they often find themselves in situations fraught with ethical dilemmas. In health care, there are often times when the medical team and the patient disagree on the plan of care, but in pediatric health care, this becomes even more complex. This is because there are times where the decision made by the parents is deemed inappropriate by the health care team. What do you do if, as the caregiver, you do not agree with the decisions made for your patient by their surrogate decision-maker? It can be assumed that in most cases, parents only want what is best for their children. Research demonstrates, however, that parents do not always serve as the best voice for their child who is suffering, especially when the child is nearing the end of life. Is it ethical for the health care team to assume the role of decision-maker when disagreement ensues over the pediatric patient’s treatment course?
This paper will examine this ethical dilemma further, including why it is an important issue...
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McGowan, C. M. (2011). Legal issues. Legal aspects of end-of-life care. Critical Care Nurse, 31(5), 64-69. doi:10.4037/ccn2011550
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