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2007 Pediatric Bioethics Conference

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Current Controversies: Navigating Conflicts When Parents and Providers Disagree About Medical Care

The Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics hosted its third conference on pediatric bioethics on July 13 and 14, 2007, in Seattle, Washington.

The conference attracted more than 200 attendees from the United States, Canada and Australia who gathered to discuss the ethical issue related to disagreements between parents and providers about medical care.

Conference Introduction

Parents and caretakers of children may not always agree with the medical care recommended by their healthcare providers.

In some cases, parents may request medical tests or treatments that healthcare providers do not think they should provide. In other cases, parents may refuse medical care that providers think is important for the well-being of the child.

These conflicts may reflect differing opinions about how to weigh the benefits and burdens of certain medical interventions. They may also reflect misunderstandings, cultural and religious differences and a lack of trust in the healthcare providers.

These disagreements raise many important ethical questions about how to navigate situations in which conflict develops:

  • When can healthcare providers refuse to provide medical care that a parent requests?
  • Can physicians ever withdraw life-sustaining treatment over the objections of a parent?
  • How much freedom should parents have to refuse medical tests or treatments for a child?
  • Does it matter if a parent’s objections to recommended therapy have a religious or cultural basis?
  • What strategies might prove effective in resolving conflicts that arise over the clinical care of children?

In July 2007, leaders in the field of pediatric bioethics discussed these issues in Seattle, Washington, on the shores of Puget Sound. Below you will find the archived webcast presentations and more, so you can join in the continued exploration of these ethical questions.

    2007 Pediatric Bioethics ConferencePresentations

    Watch the UWTV program series

    Day 1

    Welcome and introduction

    Parental Requests for “Futile” Treatment
    Presented by Norman Fost, MD, MPH

    Physician Refusal to Provide Life-Prolonging Medical Interventions
    Presented by John J. Paris, SJ, PhD

    Show Me the Money: Financial Considerations in Responding to Parental Wishes
    Benjamin S. Wilfond, MD
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    Should Developmentally Delayed Children Be Listed for Solid Organ Transplants?
    David Magnus, PhD
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    Panel and questions
    Norman Fost, John J. Paris, Benjamin S. Wilfond, David Magnus
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    Parents as Living Donors for Their Children: Who Decides the Permissible Degree of Risks? And What Criteria Do They Use?
    Presented by Lainie Friedman Ross, MD, PhD 
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    The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Pediatric Patients: When Accommodation Becomes a Problem
    Presented by Christine Harrison, PhD
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    Using Children as a Means to a Sibling’s Health: Ethical Concerns and Justifications for Pediatric Sibling Transplants
    Presented by Rebecca Pentz, PhD
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    Platform presentations of selected submitted abstracts

    Futility, State Law and the Fate of Children
    Mary Anderlik Majumder, JD, PhD
    View presentation (PDF)

    Responding to Parental Requests for a Caregiver of a Different Race or Ethnicity
    Kyle Anstey, PhD
    View presentation (PDF)

    Nobody Likes Premies
    Annie Janvier, PhD, FRCPC
    View presentation (PDF)

    Parental Provider Conflict and Calling in the Law…Trump or Wild Card?
    Kellie Lang, JD
    View presentation (PDF)

    Day 2

    Welcome and introduction

    Refusals in Pediatrics
    Presented by Lainie Friedman Ross, MD, PhD
    Watch video
    View presentation (PDF)

    Christian Science and the Medical Care of Children
    Norman Fost, MD, MPH

    Parental Discretion in Refusal of Treatment for Newborns
    John J. Paris, SJ, PhD
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    Panel and questions
    Lainie Friedman Ross, Norman Fost, John J. Paris
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    Understanding Differences in Conflicts Surrounding the Medical Care of Children
    Presented by Douglas S. Diekema, MD, MPH
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    View presentation (PDF)

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