Ethical considerations in pediatric neurology
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The practice of pediatric neurology demands a high level of responsibility at multiple levels. These include listening carefully to people's stories in order to assess each situation, planning and implementing investigations and therapies, individual and family counseling, longitudinal follow-up from fetal life throughout childhood and adolescence, organization of transition to adult care, and societal advocacy. In the 21st century these activities must be carried out in the context of major societal and technological changes which have brought about many new challenges for pediatric neurologists. In this chapter, we address ethical and moral issues that may help guide pediatric neurologists with regard to a number of specific challenges. These include physician-patient relationships that are based on benign paternalism with respect for autonomy and promoting quality of life, practicing evidence-based medicine, and the technological imperative. In addition we discuss the tension between clinical practice and research, relationships between physicians and industry, and the public role of pediatric neurologists to advocate for children with neurological and developmental conditions. We also illustrate some challenges in selected situations such as prenatal counseling (fetal neurology), neonatal encephalopathy, and persistent vegetative state.
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