Deficiencies and Missed Opportunities to Formulate Clinical Guidelines in Australia for Withholding or Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Treatment in Severely Disabled and Impaired Infants

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 2014

Deakin Law School Research Paper No. 16-02

12 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2015 Last revised: 19 Jan 2016

See all articles by Neera Bhatia

Neera Bhatia

Deakin University, Geelong, Australia - Deakin Law School

James Tibballs

University of Melbourne - Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne

Date Written: August 8, 2014

Abstract

This paper examines the few, but important legal and coronial cases concerning withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining treatment from severely disabled or critically impaired infants in Australia. Although sparse in number, the judgements should influence common clinical practices based on assessment of best interests but these have not yet been adopted. In particular, although courts have discounted assessment of quality of life as a legitimate component of determination of best interests this remains a prominent component of clinical guidelines. In addition, this paper highlights the lack of uniform clinical guidelines available to medical professionals and parents in Australia when making end-of-life decisions for severely ill infants. Thus, it is argued here that there is a need for an overarching prescriptive uniform framework or set of guidelines in end-of-life decision-making for impaired infants. This would encourage greater transparency, consistency, and some degree of objectivity in an area that often appears subjective.

Keywords: quallity of life, best interests, clinical guidelines

Suggested Citation

Bhatia, Neera and Tibballs, James, Deficiencies and Missed Opportunities to Formulate Clinical Guidelines in Australia for Withholding or Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Treatment in Severely Disabled and Impaired Infants (August 8, 2014). Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 2014, Deakin Law School Research Paper No. 16-02, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2635342

Neera Bhatia (Contact Author)

Deakin University, Geelong, Australia - Deakin Law School ( email )

221 Burwood Highway
Burwood
Melbourne, Victoria 3125
Australia

James Tibballs

University of Melbourne - Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne

Flemington Road
Parkville Vic. 3052
Australia

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