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Exploring the Limits of Children’s Healthcare: What’s the Reality of Providing Care to All?

July 20, 2011

Leaders in the field debate ethical and policy complexities of providing healthcare to children at Seattle Children’s 2011 Pediatric Bioethics Conference

The Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children’s Research Institute will host its Seventh Annual Pediatric Bioethics Conference on Friday, July 22 and Saturday, July 23. Conference participants will examine the various ethical and public policy boundaries and complexities of providing healthcare to children. The conference, entitled “Who’s Responsible for the Children? Exploring the Boundaries of Clinical Ethics and Public Policy,” will be held at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center on Seattle’s downtown waterfront.  It can also be watched live via webcast at http://www.seattlechildrens.org/research/initiatives/bioethics/.

The conference will focus on the complex issues intensified by the current battle over healthcare dollars. While most agree that healthcare providers, institutions and government agencies have moral obligations to care for children, the debate continues about the priority these individuals should be given. The process by which pediatric healthcare issues are resolved is complex and contentious, yet healthcare providers and institutions are forced to make tough decisions daily. Some of the questions the conference will address include:

  • Under what circumstances should individual providers or healthcare institutions extend medical care to children whose families cannot pay?
  • Do providers' responsibilities extend beyond the walls of the clinic? How do we balance obligations to provide better healthcare with obligations to improve other factors that influence health, such as diet, exercise, housing and education?
  • Do providers have an obligation to tell families about healthcare options that are not “available” or will not be provided because of financial constraints?
  • Should care to children be prioritized based on social, physical or mental health status?
  • How will healthcare reform affect the goal of providing for the basic healthcare needs of all children?

“Sharing knowledge with the broader community to advance healthcare for children is a key priority for Seattle Children’s,” said Benjamin S. Wilfond, MD, director of Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics. “This year’s bioethics conference provides a timely opportunity for experts to discuss much-needed solutions to the bioethical and policy complexities of making sure all children receive the healthcare they need.” 

Conference speakers include: Stephen Bezruchka, MD, MPH, from the Departments of Health Services and Global Health, University of Washington; Erika Blacksher, PhD, from the Department of Bioethics and Humanities, University of Washington; Arthur Caplan, PhD, from the Emmanuel and Robert Hart Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania; Larry Churchill, PhD, from the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Benjamin Danielson, MD, from the Odessa Brown Children's Clinic; Douglas S. Diekema, MD, MPH, from the University of Washington School of Medicine and  Seattle Children Research Institute’s Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics; Joel Frader, MD, MA, from the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine; John Lantos, MD, from the Children’s Mercy Bioethics Center, University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Medicine; Paul Menzel, PhD, from Pacific Lutheran University; and Kathryn L. Moseley, MD, MPH, from the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, University of Michigan.

For more information and to watch the conference live via webcast, please visit:  http://www.seattlechildrens.org/research/initiatives/bioethics/

To follow conference-related tweets on Twitter, use the hashtag:  #PedBioethics7.

About Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the research institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention and bioethics, among others. As part of Seattle Children’s Hospital, the research institute brings together leading minds in pediatric research to provide patients with the best care possible. Seattle Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, which consistently ranks as one of the best pediatric departments in the country. For more information, visit http://www.seattlechildrens.org/research.

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