A time to die: withdrawal of paediatric intensive care

Br J Nurs. 1994 May 26-Jun 8;3(10):513-7. doi: 10.12968/bjon.1994.3.10.513.


Each individual has the right to a dignified death, which may necessitate a decision to cease active treatment. The key to making such a decision is communication between professionals, child and family. Ethical principles may help to provide a basis and structure for decision making. It may be useful for units to formulate a decision-making framework based on an agreed ethical approach. As a minor, the child is non-autonomous and his/her interests are represented by the parents; however, it is essential that the child is included, if possible, in the decision-making process. The nurse is responsible for updating him/herself on ethical issues, and acquiring the knowledge necessary to represent both the child and his/her colleagues in discussion. Withdrawal of aggressive care does not mean abandoning the child and family. On the contrary, all the skills and resources available will be required to ensure a peaceful and dignified death, and to support the child and family.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Advocacy
  • Critical Care*
  • Decision Making
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Family / psychology
  • Humans
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Right to Die*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Terminal Care*
  • Withholding Treatment