A medical team considers withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration supporting a 6-month-old girl with complex cardiac disease, devastating neurological injury, and ongoing, unmanageable pain. Diffuse neurological injury and severe ischemia in all four limbs offers a bleak prognosis. Drawing on the bioethics literature on the subject, the following case presentation and analysis illustrates how a medical team and family can approach such a situation.
When technologically advanced medicine fails to “rescue [a patient] intact from the conditions of her birth,” professionals must rely even more squarely on the foundation of good medicine – human-centered caring. While we do not disagree with Mr. Teti’s ethical analysis, we believe that ethics consultants can (and should) do more to support the medical team in achieving this foundational goal.
Chris Feudtner MD, PhD, MPH delivered the Sanford L. Leikin Memorial Lecture in Pediatric Ethics at Children’s National Medical Center. Here he discuses a case brought by one of the hospital units.
In 1995, the medical establishment concluded genetic tests in minors should not be done outside of diagnosis of a treatable disease. The AAP concluded likewise in 2001 and 2013. A new phenomenon is emerging: young women of BRCA positive mothers are requesting genetic testing, and positions have softened with the recognition that some exceptions can be justified.