Nonetheless, should parents allow the treatment of their children even when the treatment seems to be high-risk and complicated one? This ethical principle asks the question of whether the doctors should take the parents who think that the life-saving care is high-risk and complicated (Beauchamp and Childress, 2001). Beneficence This ethical principle states that whatever is done should, before all else, of benefit to the patient. The principle requires that those with the responsibility over the patient including the parent of minors and the doctors should take actions that benefit the patient, and not to the detriment of the patient (Clark, Cott, and Drinka, 2007).
While obviously it appears that one cannot do anything that does not help the patient, people are sometimes tempted to do things, when asked by other physicians or families that are of no or of marginal benefit to patients. For example, doing a test or surgery that is unlikely to help the patient. In the case of parental refusal of life-saving care for a minor child, it raises the question of whether such a refusal is deemed to benefit the minor child or not.
If such a refusal will benefit the child then the doctors may consider it. However, in most cases, parental refusal is usually contrary to doctors’ opinion. As such, the refusal may be seen not to benefit the child because it is formed against informed and professional view that overrides feelings and emotions (Beauchamp and Childress, 2001). Therefore, the doctors may take the parent to court in order to seek the overruling of the decision by the parent, if they believe that their recommendation will benefit the minor child and that the parental refusal would be detrimental to the child’s health.
Non-Maleficence This ethical principle is based on the principle of “first do no harm” which cautions physicians to avoid harming their patients. Ideally, it is expected that a physician may not have any intention of harming the patient. However, reality shows that some treatments or tests do not probably help, in the long run. This ethical principle requires that the physician should first examine whether his treatments and tests will harm the patient if administered (Gaudine et al, 2011).
Since a minor child might not be able to express or foresee the “harm”, the parent may do so on his or her behalf by refusing to treatment, especially in the case of life-saving care. Admittedly, some treatments and tests can harm the patient and cause more suffering and pain than failure to administer them.
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