Whose child is it anyway? Resolving parent-physician conflict in the NICU setting

Am J Perinatol. 2003 Oct;20(7):373-80. doi: 10.1055/s-2003-45284.


Much has been written on parental involvement in decision making when dealing with critically ill children, but few articles have touched upon parental refusal of treatment in noncritically ill children. What steps should be taken when a parent refuses what is generally considered "standard of care" medicine for their hospitalized child? Does medical advice outweigh parental views or wishes, and what does one do when our role as physician turns from medical expert into one of medical negotiator? The following case and discussion deal with parental refusal of conventional medical care, and how one may find peaceful resolutions to challenging situations for the ultimate good of the child.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Decision Making
  • Dissent and Disputes*
  • Homeopathy
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Pneumonia / therapy
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Treatment Refusal*