Pediatric Bioethics Conference

2011 Pediatric Bioethics Conference

The Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children's Hospital hosted its seventh annual international pediatric bioethics conference, "Who's Responsible for the Children: Exploring the Boundaries of Clinical Ethics and Public Policy," on July 22 and 23, 2011, in Seattle. The conference featured nationally recognized speakers in bioethics and drew more than 200 participants from across the nation and around the world.

2011 Bioethics Conference Introduction

Who’s Responsible for the Children? Exploring the Boundaries of Clinical Ethics and Public Policy

While most agree that healthcare providers, institutions and government agencies have obligations to children, understanding what it means to meet these responsibilities is complicated by limited resources and competing priorities. Some suggest that we have special obligations to children because they are dependent on others to advocate for their needs. Others suggest that children, particularly infants, should be prioritized below able-bodied adults because of their limited contribution to society. The political process by which these issues get resolved at a community level is complex and contentious, yet healthcare providers and institutions must make tough decisions daily:

  • 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?
    • Children who have expensive technology-intensive care needs, such as ventilators, dialysis or transplants?
    • Children with intellectual disabilities who require special resources, yet will remain dependent on society?
    • Children who have mental healthcare needs?
    • Children who are undocumented?
  • How will healthcare reform affect the goal of providing for the basic healthcare needs of all children?

2011 Pediatric Bioethics Conference Presentations

Day 1

Welcome and Introduction
Benjamin S. Wilfond, MD

Moderator: Benjamin S. Wilfond, MD

Is There an Ethical Obligation to Provide Healthcare to All Children? 
Presented by Douglas S. Diekema, MD, MPH

The Obligations of HCWs to Get Flu Shots 
Presented by Arthur Caplan, PhD

Moderator: Holly Tabor, PhD

Pediatricians' Obligations to Care for Under- and Uninsured Children 
Presented by Joel Frader, MD, MA

Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Ethical Dilemmas for Middle Managers in Academic Medical Centers 
Presented by John Lantos, MD

Panel and Questions: Art Caplan, Joel Frader, John Lantos, Doug Diekema

Afternoon session  

Moderator: Maureen Kelley, PhD

Bioethics and the Health of Children 
Presented by Larry Churchill, PhD

A Realistic Moral Right in the U.S. to Basic Healthcare: Where Do Children Fit In? 
Presented by Paul Menzel, PhD

Panel and Questions: Larry Churchill, Paul Menzel

A Parent's Perspective: Navigating the Healthcare System 
Moderator: Lyn Kratz, MSW
Parent Panel: Jen and Paul Faultner, Melinda Woods, Jessica Lucas

Concluding Comments and Adjourn

Day 2

Welcome and Introduction
Douglas S. Diekema, MD, MPH

Moderator: Douglas S. Diekema, MD, MPH

The Social Determinants of Health: Why Insurance and Access Are Just the Beginning 
Presented by Kathryn L. Moseley, MD, MPH

Early Influences Last a Lifetime: Inequality and Health 
Presented by Stephen Bezruchka, MD, MPH

Social Inequalities in Children's Health: Ethical and Policy Implications 
Presented by Erika Blacksher, PhD

Panel and Questions: Stephen Bezruchka, Erika Blacksher, Ben Danielson

Moderator: Douglas Opel, MD

Presentations of Submitted Papers  

Who's Responsible for the Children? Physician Social Responsibility and Healthcare Reform: A National Survey
Erin O'Donnell

Rationing Charity Care to Minor Noncitizens: Features and Limitations of a Fair Hospital Policy
Ryan Blum, MD

Patient Navigator Program
Sarah Rafton, MSW

Barriers in Access to Care and Burdens on Families Living with Autism
Mariam Araujo, PhD

Concluding Comments and Adjourn

News Coverage

  • Exploring the limits of children's healthcare: What's the reality of providing care to all?