Medical Ethics - Kid's Rights?
You are working in the ER when a minor comes in who has been seriously injured in a car accident. The child, who is accompanied by his parents, shouts repeatedly, “I don’t want to die.” Immediate surgery is required and you explain the situation to the parents. They advise you that they belong to a religious group which does not permit transfusions and would rather you didn’t perform surgery if a transfusion is necessary. The mother begins to cry and shout at her husband who removes her to a waiting area. The father returns and tells the physician that they would like the surgery but can not permit a transfusion. He returns to the waiting room. There is no time for an ethics consult or any other type of consult for that matter, so the decision is yours. You see no prospect of success with the surgery absent a transfusion and the child will certainly die without the surgical intervention. What is the best course of action?
This is an actual case presented to me for advice and is not uncommon. Of course, there could be any number of extenuating circumstances and additional details. But please address the case on the basis of the information provided. There will be an analysis of this case in a later blog entry.