Skip Navigation LinksHome > June 2011 - Volume 17 - Issue 3, Neurorehabilitation > The Limits of Parental Authority to Accept or Refuse Medical...
CONTINUUM: Lifelong Learning in Neurology:
doi: 10.1212/01.CON.0000399085.05007.02
Ethical Perspectives

The Limits of Parental Authority to Accept or Refuse Medical Treatment

Miller, Geoffrey MA, MB, MD, MPhil, FRCP, FRACP

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ABSTRACT: The legal and ethical right of parents to refuse medical treatment for their children differs from the authority possessed by competent adults with decisional capacity. Parents have a duty to act in the best interests of their children from the children's perspective and not to inflict harm. Best interests are determined by weighing benefits and burdens, which includes using evidence-based outcomes and value judgments. The result is placed along a risk/benefit spectrum. If the result is close to low risk/high benefit, the parents have a strong obligation to accept a health care team recommendation. Otherwise, parents may choose between reasonable medical options without threat or coercion.

© 2011 American Academy of Neurology


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