Editorial volume 21 number 2: We have introduced a number of new elements to the Pediatric Ethicscope website over the past several weeks. These changes were prompted by several requests from readers, and most of the changes are aimed at aiding readers wanting to cite and download Pediatric Ethicscope articles for research or teaching purposes. About the cover; about the articles.
“Suffering” is a concept that is frequently invoked in discussions about medical decision-making in pediatrics. However, empirical accounts of how the term is used are lacking, creating confusion about the concept and leaving parents and providers unsure about the appropriate ways to account for it in pediatric decision-making. We conducted a qualitative content analysis of pediatric bioethics and clinical literature in selected journals from 2007 to 2017 to determine how authors define and operationalize the term when referring to issues in pediatric treatment.
So why is it that we clinicians are so often uneasy when talking about patient suffering? One simple explanation would be that, in our era of the most extraordinary scientific discoveries, this topic has been neglected because it is so profoundly subjective, impossible to measure, quantify or compare. I propose an additional explanation; entering the world of suffering compels a response that we are not sure we can deliver. Our doubts originate in shortcomings of the health care system itself, neglect by the educational system, and from the burden of our own suffering.
The theme of the book tackles many ethical issues, including the abortion of fetuses with prenatal diagnosis of potential disabilities, and the litigious nature of our country; Charlotte, Willow’s mother, decides to sue Piper, her best friend, for medical malpractice to compensate for her daughter’s future healthcare needs.