Bioethics Blogs

When the Clinicians Have Had Enough but the Family Wants to Go On

The excellent Children’s Mercy Bioethics Center Webinar Series continues and this session by Joel Frader on December 4.

Palliative care teams frequently encounter patients and families who make decisions that feel irrational or even foolish to the professionals. Typically these cases involve parental insistence on continuing treatment which, from the clinicians’ perspectives, will only prolong the child’s suffering and will not result in additional “quality time” for the child. 

Especially when these cases involved continued complex care in the hospital, particularly in an ICU with multi-system organ failure, palliative care team members feel frustrated, even angry with the parents. The “worst” cases involve situations when the team members believe that the patient either current does not want to continue treatment or previously expressed sentiments that have left the clinicians feeling the child, now no longer able to communicate, would not want “to be kept alive this way.”

Such cases can deplete a clinical teams’ energy or spark strife within the team. This session will provide examples of challenging cases and provide arguments for continued involvement with and support of families facing the loss of their child.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.