Together for Short Lives
Call the Helpline 0808 8088 100

Just because we can, should we? A discussion of treatment withdrawal

Publication year
Crawford, D.; Way, C.

Children’s nurses are vocationally committed to promoting the health of children, relieving their suffering, enhancing their development, helping them to achieve a sense of worth and a confidence in their future. Supporting parents and medical colleagues while the decision is made to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment is one of the most difficult aspects of children’s nursing practice. Current guidelines support the withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining treatment from children in brain death, permanent vegetative state, and no chance, no purpose or unbearable situations. Societal and professional attitudes to euthanasia and assisted suicide may be changing and this could lead to changes in legislation and guidelines. However, nurses must be clear about the differences: currently any measure, practice or treatment administered with the primary intention to cause death is not allowed. This is not the same as any measure, practice or treatment administered with the intent to relieve suffering and promote comfort, that can cause or hasten death.

Research abstracts