Parental Decision-Making Essay example

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Introduction According to the Guttmacher Report on Public Policy, current laws in the United States of America indicate that minors under the age of eighteen, unless medically emancipated, must have the medical consent of their parent or parents before any health care decision can be made (Boonstra & Nash, 2000). These laws do not include health sensitive medical care like prescriptions for contraception, abortion of fetus, pregnancy care or drug addiction rehabilitation. Pediatric nurses are in a unique position that serves as the facilitator of patient care and patient care decision-making between the pediatric patient and the patient’s parents. In this position, pediatric nurses become immersed in the concept of family-centered care,…show more content…
Medical autonomy can be defined as the right to self-determination of decisions that will affect one’s health (Cummings & Mecurio, 2011). Respect for autonomy in the health care atmosphere applies to all competent adults who have the ability to understand informed consent and communicate choice. Current laws place the authority in the hands of the parents to be surrogate decision-makers for the pediatric patient’s health care treatment plan. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) defines pediatric assent as the inclusion of the child’s preference when making these decisions (Cummings & Mecurio, 2011). The AAP recognizes the child’s developing ability to understand medical diagnoses and give preference to potential treatments, but ultimately, decisions about their care still lie solely with the parents. Health care decisions should always include the ethical principle of beneficence, which is the moral obligation to do good for others, and to act in a way that serves the person’s best interests (Stringer, 2013). Best interests are actions which prevent harm and suffering, protect dignity, and promote well-being and quality of life. There are occasions when parents make a surrogate decision for their child that the health care team does not feel is in the best interest of the child. This presents a major ethical dilemma for the health care team. An example of when this situation is likely to occur, and therefore the focus of this paper, is when
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