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Is There Ever a Role for the Unilateral Do Not Attempt Resuscitation Order in Pediatric Care?

Journal title
Journal of pain and symptom management
Publication year
Marron, J. M.; Jones, E.; Wolfe, J.

Care for children as they near the end of life is difficult and very complex. More difficult still are the decisions regarding what interventions are and are not indicated during these trying times. Occasionally, families of children who are nearing the end of life disagree with the assessment of the medical team regarding these interventions. In rare cases, the medical team can be moved to enact a do not attempt resuscitation order against the wishes of the patient’s parents. This article presents one such illustrative case and discusses the ethical issues relevant to such challenging clinical scenarios. The authors posit that such a unilateral do not attempt resuscitation order is only appropriate in very limited circumstances in pediatric care. Instead, focus should be placed on open discussion between parents and members of the clinical team, shared decision making, and maintenance of the clinician-parent relationship while simultaneously supporting members of the clinical team who express discomfort with parental decisions. The authors propose an alternative framework for approaching such a conflict based on clinician-parent collaboration and open communication.

Research abstracts