Objective: The objective of this study is to determine how neonatologists and bioethicists conceptualize and apply the Best Interests Standard (BIS).
Study design: Members of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities and the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine were surveyed to determine how they conceptualized the BIS and ranked the appropriateness of forgoing life-sustaining therapy (LST).
Results: Neonatologists' median response supported an infant-specific BIS conceptualization that linked the infant's and family's interests. They did not support allowing limitations on the family's obligations. Ethicists' supported a conceptualization that linked the infant's and family's interests and limitations on the family's obligations, a less infant-specific conceptualization. Ethicists were less or equally likely to agree with forgoing LST in seven of eight cases.
Conclusions: Ethicists endorsed a conceptualization of the BIS that includes the effects on the family and rejected an infant-specific one. Neonatologists split between these two and rejected limiting the family's obligations. Critical appraisal of the BIS is needed in neonatal ethics.