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Benevolent Injustice: A Neonatal Dilemma

Barnum, Brenda BSN, RN

Section Editor(s): Catlin, Anita DNSc, FNP, FAAN

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0b013e3181a72d19
Ethicial Issues in Newborn Care

There is a little-recognized cohort of NICU patients whose outcomes are the result of a “benevolent injustice” in their healthcare course. Many of these infants are saved by technology; however, they are left both medically fragile and medically dependent, and many of them are required to live in a medical facility. Many of these babies never get to go home with their parents. This emerging cohort of patients may evolve from the difficult ability to prognosticate outcomes for neonates, overtreatment, and acquiescing to parental demands for continued aggressive care. Neonatology is an unpredictable process and one that is never intended to harm, but carries with it the potential of devastating consequences, thus creating a benevolent injustice.

Loyola University of Chicago, Illinois; and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, California.

Address correspondence to Brenda Barnum, BSN, RN, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, 4650 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027;

© 2009 National Association of Neonatal Nurses