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Archivos argentinos de pediatría

versión impresa ISSN 0325-0075versión On-line ISSN 1668-3501


SELANDARI, Jorge O et al. Opinions of members of the National Civil (Family Proceedings) and Criminal Courts in withholding or withdrawing of life support situations in pediatrics. Arch. argent. pediatr. [online]. 2016, vol.114, n.4, pp.298-304. ISSN 0325-0075.

Introduction. The possibility of sustaining life functions makes it difficult to distinguish between a dying patient and a patient with chances of survival, raising a dilemma for everyone around them. On the one side, continuing with life support techniques that would only extend an irreversible process and result in physical and psychological damage and harm their dignity. On the other side, withholding or withdrawing life support without an adequate reflection and diagnostic-therapeutic effort which may lead to the death of a potentially recoverable child. In addition, making decisions in this context implies facing barriers that hinder the possibility of pursuing the patient's best interest. Among such barriers, the fear of litigation plays a major role. To what extent is this fear justified? Objective. To explore the opinions of the members of the National Judiciary regarding the approach to withholding or withdrawing of life support from a legal stance. Population and methods. Professionals working in the criminal, civil and forensic medicine settings. Semistructured survey on three hypothetical case histories that implied making a decision to withhold or withdraw life support. Results. One hundred and eighty-five surveys were distributed; 68 (36.76%) were partially completed and 51 (30.3%), in full. Twenty-eight (55%) survey respondents did not criminalize any of the three cases presented. Thirteen (25%) respondents considered that the decisions made in the three cases constituted a crime; 6 (12%), only in one case; and 4 (8%), in two out of the three. Crimes described by survey respondents included intentional homicide, wrongful death, and failure to render assistance. Conclusions. Forty-five percent of survey respondents considered that decisions made involved some form of crime.

Palabras clave : Pediatric intensive care unit; Withholding treatment; Decision-making; Ethics; Legislation and jurisprudence.

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