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How do life-threatening medical conditions in children impact quality of life?
Date:4/12/2011

weeks with him were the best weeks of their lives."

Those essays and others paint a poignant picture of parents, caregivers, healthcare providers and children dealing with and healing from severe hardships. They also teach that doctors and other healthcare providers may often handle these stressful situations in inadequate ways. In a final essay, Peter A. Ubel, MD, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, discusses how doctors make uncalled-for value judgments about the future quality of life of such children and their parents. Yet, he also suggests that doctors can provide needed guidance to parents who might not be able to make rational decisions in the face of the impending death of a child. Doctors are taught to operate autonomously, using only good medical judgment and logic to come to conclusions. Others will act paternally, protecting their patients from bad news and making decisions for them.

Dr. Ubel suggests a different path. "The moral practice of medicine should value empathy more than autonomy. A clinician who understands where her patients are coming from is more likely to give good adviceor even know when such advice is not wantedthan a clueless clinician who respects autonomy or a tone-deaf one who favors paternalism. What doctors say is less important than what doctors hear and understand and reflect. Listening and watching are at the core of good clinical ethics."


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Contact: Angelica Kerr
editors-cppah@elsevier.com
Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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