Ethical Dilemmas-Infant and Child Refusal of Treatment

Like other careers, nursing too experiences ethical dilemmas. This situation is always because of conflicting principles in the field of nursing. For instance, legal demands may at times clash with nursing obligations or ethical principles of the profession. Thus, the nurses have lesser options and are incapable of making proper decisions. One such ethical dilemma in the field of nursing is the refusal of treatment among infants and children.

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Fry et al. (2010) contend that Parents have the right to agree or refuse treatment of their children. The laws of the state demand that children should not receive any treatment or operation without the consent of their parents. This denies the nurses the opportunity to perform their obligation and fulfill their life saving role. As long as the parents have stable state of mind, they legally have the power to refuse treatment on their children. However, Parens patriae principle assigns the state the role of protecting the child from harm through a court system (Fry et al., 2010). For instance, if a child is sick and a parent is unwilling to allow the child receive treatment. The court rules for a compulsory treatment of the child and denies the parents the right over their neglected children in an attempt to protect its citizen (the child). The court only does this when it is the only way to save the life of the child. However, the same legislations state that if the child is sick in a state close to death or terminally ill especially suffering from chronic disease, then the state has no role in maintaining the child’s life (Butts & Rich, 2007). Thus, the state defies the child’s interest and leaves the child to peril.

Sometimes, the court may allow the minor to make decision about treatment especially when 14 years old, the treatment may not have grave consequences on the minor or if it is of good to the minor. However, in most cases it grants a guardian the role of taking care of the minor. All this depends on court orders, which might take time thus delay the life saving process of the minor.

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