The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 19, Issue 1, Spring 2019

Felipe E. Vizcarrondo, MD
Pages 105-120

Medical Futility in Pediatric Care

The transition from the paternalistic paradigm of the Hippocratic tradition to the present model of shared decision making has altered the patient–doctor relationship. This change has engendered conflicts between patients and physicians, especially in pediatric medicine, where the patients are depen­dent on their parents because of their inability to consent to an intervention independently. Navigating this complex relationship can become particularly fraught when medical futility is invoked. This situation is complicated further by the divergent approaches to shared decision making among physicians and the ethical perspectives these positions reflect. Catholic doctrine on the role of parents in medical-ethical decision making provides insight into navigat­ing these difficult clinical issues and ideologies.