Ethical care for infants with conditions not curable with intensive care

J Clin Ethics. 2011 Spring;22(1):54-60.


Offering intensive care to neonates who have conditions that carry extremely poor prognoses is a source of great contention amongst neonatologists. The concept of best interests is commonly used as a rationale for refusing such care, despite the fact that parents of these infants often have a different view of what best interests means. This article takes up the question of what best interests should incorporate for infants with lethal conditions not curable with intensive care, and how and who should decide which treatment options should be implemented. Based on our recommendation that parents be apprised of the basis upon which physicians are evaluating treatment options, we offer a framework that allows all relevant parties to approach the issue of what is appropriate treatment from a similar place. We maintain that this approach will increase transparency, dialogue, understanding, and trust, which, in turn, may result in greater consensus.

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple* / therapy
  • Choice Behavior / ethics
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 18
  • Communication
  • Consensus
  • Decision Making / ethics*
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / ethics*
  • Negotiating
  • Parents*
  • Physicians / ethics*
  • Problem Solving / ethics*
  • Time Factors
  • Trisomy
  • Uncertainty