Mechanical ventilation for a child with quadriplegia

William E. Novotny, Ronald M. Perkin, Debjani Mukherjee, John D. Lantos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Parents generally have the right to make medical decisions for their children. This right can be challenged when the parents' decision seems to go against the child's interests. The toughest such decisions are for a child who will survive with physical and neurocognitive impairments. We discuss a case of a 5-year-old boy who suffered a spinal injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident and whose father requests discontinuation of life support. Many experts recommend a "trial of therapy" to clarify both prognosis and quality of life. The key ethical question, then, is not whether to postpone a decision to forego mechanical ventilation. Instead, the key question is how long to wait. Parents should be allowed time to see what life will be like for themselves and for their child. Most of the time, life turns out better than they might have imagined. Comments are provided by 2 pediatric intensivists, Drs William Novotny and Ronald Perkin of East Carolina University, and by a specialist in rehabilitation, Dr Debjani Mukherjee of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-597
Number of pages5
JournalPediatrics
Volume134
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

Keywords

  • Child
  • Decisional capacity
  • Ethics
  • Quadriplegia
  • Quality of life
  • Right to refuse treatment
  • Substituted judgment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Mechanical ventilation for a child with quadriplegia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this