Most critical care interventions for children occur in the framework of a supportive environment with loving parents that are present at the bedside to help to guide medical interventions through shared decision-making. What happens, however, if the parents are precluded from being at the bedside because of legal entanglements? How should clinical decisions progress in those cases? In this Ethics Rounds, we present the case of an infant with severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy at birth whose mother was incarcerated shortly after delivery. We explore clinical and legal challenges that the medical team faces in determining best interests for the infant in this context and difficulties in deciding what therapies to provide and for how long.
Child Abuse; Decision Making; Fatal Outcome; Female; Humans; Infant, Newborn; Prisons; Withholding Treatment
Mann PC, Weiss EM, Seltzer RR, Dodge RAB, Boss RD, Lantos JD. Child Abuse, Incarceration, and Decisions About Life-sustaining Treatment. Pediatrics. 2018;142(6):e20180430. doi:10.1542/peds.2018-0430