Hospital Ethics

How do those tough decisions about end of life or caretaker conflicts get decided in large hospitals? What if the parents’ religious beliefs are in conflict with proper medical protocols concerning their own child? These issues are often dealt with by hospital ethics boards. Father Patrick Norris, a hospital chaplain and lecturer on hospital ethics, is Dick’s guest.

“Most (hospital) ethics committees are advisory,” Norris said. “Ultimately the physicians, families and patients make those (difficult) decisions.”

In cases in which parents refuse treatment for their child, the question comes up, why are they refusing? Is it religious belief? Is it a conflict of what the burden vs. benefit would be? Is it a misunderstanding of the diagnosis?

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