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July 2018

The Value of Parental Permission in Pediatric Practice

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Biomedical Science, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, Rochester, Michigan
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, Rochester, Michigan
  • 3Department of Philosophy, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan
  • 4now retired
JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(7):613-614. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.0395

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Bioethics recently released guidelines stating that physicians may challenge parental authority to make medical decisions for their children only when failing to do so would result in “significant risk of serious harm.”1(pe6)2(p3) Drawing heavily on the work of Diekema,3 these new guidelines superseded the 1995 AAP Committee on Bioethics statement,4 which implied that a parent’s failure to comply with options that would promote their child’s best interests could undermine a parent’s moral right to make decisions for his or her child. Recently, Navin and Wasserman5 applauded this move, but argued that there were numerous additional reasons to support the expansion of parental latitude in decision making up to the threshold of harm. This position was heavily criticized by commentators, particularly those in clinical practice, and important questions were raised about the value and limits of parental decision making.

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