Term Paper: Neonatal Ethics

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¶ … neonatal ethics and have presented my view regarding the topic. I have also managed to integrate philosophical and historical perspectives regarding neonatal care and ethics. In the end, I have given my personal opinion concerning the solution of the issues at stake.

The ethical debate regarding the proper care of severely unwell infants is one of the oldest debates in medical sciences. In the present times, approaches that are extremely unusual have been taken to decide about the care of such newborns. This is the reason why it is exceedingly important to analyze the ethical concepts and arguments about many issues concerning the neonatal medicine. Such ethical debates revolve around "the value of human life; the role of best interests; the deliberate ending of life; and the withholding and withdrawing of treatment" (Brazier). It is a known fact that mankind has been facing ethical concerns since the dawn of civilization. As far as clinical situations are concerned, physicians also face ethical questions on a regular basis regarding one case or the other. However, those involved in neonatal care face a lot of ethical controversies. It is not an untold secret that ethical and moral issues regarding the treatment of neonates have penetrated into a number of features of such cases (Pueschel).

When the newborns are within the first 28 days of their lives, they are known as neonates. As far as neonatal intensive care units are concerned, they frequently accommodate and look after for babies who fall in any of the three categories i.e. babies born premature having birth weight that is very low, babies born after nine months (full-term babies) having severe conditions or babies born with inherited abnormalities ("Bioethical Issues - Neonatal Ethics"). However tremendous changes have taken place in the modern times and it is now more than five decades that "neonatal medicine has been practiced to provide specialized and intensive care measures aimed at improving the health and survival of premature and critically ill newborns" (Carter).

In the contemporary world, the ethical issues generally revolve around the decision making for the betterment of neonates. Such decisions entail the consideration and evaluation of treatment and assessing whether it would be helpful or ineffective for the well-being of the little individual. Thus both short-term and long-term scenarios related to the health of the child are considered while taking any certain decision. The two issues that are of main concern in the process of decision making are the likelihood to survive therapeutic/remedial involvement and the quality of life in the future. It is important here to mention the most renowned case of neonatal decision-making regarding Baby Doe. The child was born with Down's syndrome and a tracheal-esophageal fistula in 1982. The parents opted for the hard choice and agreed to not repair the fistula with surgical intervention. They decided so because it was in the best interest of the child. They did not want their child to continue living a depended and quality-lacking life given by Down's syndrome. In the end, starvation ultimately took Baby Doe's life ("Bioethical Issues - Neonatal Ethics").

When neonatal context is discussed, decision making in this regard is rather multifaceted and difficult. The parents of seriously ill neonates have to consult with the care providers and in most of the cases, have to make decisions concerning the newborns' life-and-death treatment. It is too difficult to decide about the fate of a child who is being awaited for so long. At the same time as it is burdensome for parents to decide the outcome of their child's life, parents are put in a difficult position to decide so with no clear decision-making process. As a consequence, parents are often given assistance by providers and make illogical, stress-laden and uninformed choices that are not based on systematic analysis but on intuition. As a matter of fact, majority of the opted methods do "correspond with what is in the best interests of their newborn" (Panicola 723). On the other hand, in few cases, the decisions made by parents result in non-treatment decisions for babies who must be given a chance for survival and treatment decisions for neonates who must not be given a chance to survive due to their extremely poor physical condition (Panicola 723).

There may be mandatory, elective or ineffective treatment based on the neonatal cases' unique aspects. However, the physicians and parents decide to continue with a particular kind of treatment after observing the prognosis of a newborn. If the prognosis looks good, they eventually decide for medical intervention necessary to keep the newborn alive. On the other hand, there are a number of cases where parents refuse to involve medical intercession for the treatment of their child. In such occasional circumstances, hospitals take the help of their ethicists for seeking a court order so that the decisions of the parents may be made ineffective and treatment can be initiated for the betterment of the newborn. The situation turns out to be more notorious when there is no adequate knowledge regarding the prognosis of a neonate and the parents are given the choice to discuss their options about the treatment with the physician ("Bioethical Issues - Neonatal Ethics").

Thus, it is when bioethics comes into scene that deals with the limitations, commitments and responsibilities of all the people who are a major part of the decision-making progress. As a final point, there are also a number of cases when medical intervention is considered pointless and unsuccessful, nevertheless the doctors and parents insist to treat the newborn. In such circumstances, treatment is regarded as tremendously troublesome and tentative thereby pointing out that there are small chances of surviving treatment with quality of life in the least. As far as bioethics evaluation is concerned, it considers the patient rights, parental rights and physician duties and responsibilities ("Bioethical Issues - Neonatal Ethics").

It is important to mention here that in the last four to five decades, there has been a momentous development in the technology, skills and medicinal/therapeutic interventions in the neonatal intensive care unit ("Bioethical Issues - Neonatal Ethics"). Also, technical capabilities have been improved drastically allowing more speedy and accurate diagnosis, efficient scrutiny and supervision and unambiguous treatment. Special-care nursery beds are now available in large numbers and the number of important people including the professionals and specialists has also increased for the successful treatment of God's susceptible population (Carter). Although such a notable development in neonatal care has brought up stories of joy and miraculous recovery of the newborn, there have been depressing and painful stories where the newborns ended up with severe disabilities ("Bioethical Issues - Neonatal Ethics"). As a consequence, bioethics can be helpful and facilitate both physicians and parents in solving issues related to the "regulation on use of experimental technological developments and by providing guidance in controversial situations" ("Bioethical Issues - Neonatal Ethics").

If the pages of the past are turned, it is rather obvious that the percentage of premature babies who managed to survive was very low. However, in the last three decades, the advancements in technologies and medical developments at the beginning of life have totally revolutionized the likability of babies' survival that born before 28 weeks of gestation. In the current times, it has been recorded that in developed countries like United Kingdom, more than eighty percent pre-mature babies manage to survive and a good number of the little creatures even survive at gestation period of just twenty-three weeks. Such advancements and developments are rather exciting. However, at the same time, concerns have raised regarding the human and financial cost of such progressions in the care of neonates. According to the research, more or less twenty percent of the survivors who were born extremely premature have ninety-nine percent chances of having disabilities like cerebral palsy. A majority of such survivors are also likely to be challenged with academic and behavioral problems once they are in schools (Wyatt 1).

Therefore, a lot of people are concerned whether attempts to save the life of such weak neonates is a sensible utilization of resources or not. Another contradiction in this regard is that even as huge investments are made for making it possible for a newborn to survive, the abortion of fetuses is also tolerated for social reasons. Thus, as far as ethical dilemmas are concerned, they are not only raised by the premature babies but also by babies who have grave complicated congenital malformations at the time of birth. These malformations may be in heart, nervous system, brain, lungs etc. Thus, the ethical concerns regarding neonatal care is that whether such babies must be treated or medical intervention be withheld? (Wyatt 1).

As far as the historical perspective and philosophies regarding the issue of neonatal care is concerned, a number of different societies all over the world have considered newborn babies as being less valuable when compared with the adults. In Greek and Roman societies, infanticide i.e. The deliberate killings of newborns and the exposure of infants… [END OF PREVIEW]

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