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.
Doctors revise their diagnostic strategy to provide a timely and meaningful prognosis in accordance with parental goals. This narrative discusses issues of diagnostic uncertainty and the value of relying on clinical gestalt when trying to prioritize medical tests for a sick patient.
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.