Friday, June 12, 2009

The Algorithms of Arguing for Treatment of a Minor

Rosemary Flanigan
June 12, 2009

I’ve re-read the four articles in the Great Debates section of the recent Cambridge Quarterly, and I find it rather measured.

Lainie Friedman Ross from the U.of Chicago entitled hers “Arguments against Respecting a Minor’s Refusal of Efficacious Life-Saving Treatment” but I found few new arguments. If the therapies are “effective,” and the child says no (but the parents say Yes), then treat.

Respect parental wishes and try to convince the child to see the utility of the treatment.

If the parents say No and the child says No, then treat with a court order.

But when effective therapy does not exist, then if the parent says yes and the child says no, treat or don’t treat based on benefit-to-risk ratio and the maturity of the child. But if the parents say no but the child says yes to treatment, “Do not treat. When possible, seek compromise.”

And the same goes when the child and the parent both refuse the treatment.

I love the algorithms; if only “effective” and “ineffective” were as readily known!! It’s easier being the philosopher here than the pediatrician!!!

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