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When Parents Have Misunderstandings About the Risks and Benefits of Palliative Surgery

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Robins, B.; Booser, A.; Lantos, J. D.

When a child needs surgery, both the surgeon and the anesthesiologist must obtain informed consent from the parents. In theory, each specialist obtains permission for their respective portion of the procedure, with the anesthesiologist only obtaining informed consent for the administration of anesthesia and management in the operating room and recovery room. However, he or she may occasionally realize that the parents have misunderstandings about what the surgery and perioperative course entail. In such cases, he or she must decide whether their role is only to discuss the issues related to anesthesia care or whether he or she should also clarify the range of expected outcomes and the postoperative course after surgery. We present a case in which such a dilemma arose and on which we sought experts in anesthesia and ethics to comment.

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