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Available from: PubMed Central
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the western healthcare, shared decision making has become the orthodox approach to making healthcare choices as a way of promoting patient autonomy. Despite the fact that the autonomy paradigm is poorly suited to paediatric decision making, such an approach is enshrined in English common law. When reaching moral decisions, for instance when it is unclear whether treatment or non-treatment will serve a child's best interests, shared decision making is particularly questionable because agreement does not ensure moral validity. With reference to current common law and focusing on intensive care practice, this paper investigates what claims shared decision making may have to legitimacy in a paediatric intensive care setting. Drawing on key texts, I suggest these identify advantages to parents and clinicians but not to the child who is the subject of the decision. Without evidence that shared decision making increases the quality of the decision that is being made, it appears that a focus on the shared nature of a decision does not cohere with the principle that the best interests of the child should remain paramount. In the face of significant pressures toward the displacement of the child's interests in a shared decision, advantages of a shared decision to decisional quality require elucidation. Although a number of arguments of this nature may have potential, should no such advantages be demonstrable we have cause to revise our commitment to either shared decision making or the paramountcy of the child in these circumstances.
Available from: PubMed Central
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There have been recent policy moves aimed at encouraging individuals to lead healthier lives. The Cabinet Office has set up a 'nudge unit' with health as one of its priorities and behavioural approaches have started to be integrated into health-related domestic policy in a number of areas. Behavioural research has shown that that the way the environment is constructed can shape a person's choices within it. Thus, it is hoped that, by using insights from such research, people can be nudged towards making decisions which are better for their health. This article outlines how nudges can be conceived of as part of an expanding arsenal of health-affecting regulatory tools being used by the Government and addresses some concerns which have been expressed regarding behavioural research-driven regulation and policy. In particular, it makes the case that, regardless of new regulatory and policy strategies, we cannot escape the myriad of influences which surround us. As such, we can view our health-affecting decisions as already being in some sense shaped and constructed. Further, it argues we may in fact have reason to prefer sets of health-affecting options which have been intentionally designed by the state, rather than those that stem from other sources or result from random processes. Even so, in closing, this article draws attention to the largely unanswered questions about how behavioural research translates into policy and regulatory initiatives.
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Where a decision has been made to stop futile treatment of critically ill patients on an intensive care unit - what is termed withdrawal of treatment in the UK - yet no doctor is available to perform the actions of withdrawal, nurses may be called upon to perform key tasks. In this paper I present two moral justifications for this activity by offering answers to two major questions. One is to ask if it can be in patients' best interests for nurses to be the key actors in withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. The other is to ask if there is any reason that the nursing profession should not undertake such tasks if this is so. Both these questions require the resolution of weighty moral and philosophical issues. Thus, while offering a serious attempt to provide moral justifications for nurses undertaking withdrawal, this paper also invites debate over both the aim of task division between nurses and doctors, and how we might decide what is in the best interests of patients.
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