Terminally Ill Infants, Parents and the Courts
Medicine and Law, Vol. 24, No. 4, 2005
13 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2005
Parents sometimes demand 'full active treatment' for a terminally ill child, even against medical advice. They think that they should decide their child's best interests, not medical staff, who may conclude too readily that the child's life is 'not worth living'. Only parents who know and love their child can decide that. Doctors and nurses, on the other hand, feel they have the training and experience to assess the pain and distress of heroic measures and whether they are justified in cases where a child cannot survive, or will have profound disability. This paper reviews recent case law in the United Kingdom and Australia on the role and processes of courts where a hospital (or a parent) applies for a court order regarding treatment. The author concludes that it is possible but unlikely that a court would direct medical staff to provide treatment they regard as clinically inappropriate.
Keywords: Treatment, non-treatment, withholding, withdrawal, infant, disability, disputes, court intervention, declaration
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation