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March 1988

Ethics Committees

Am J Dis Child. 1988;142(3):249-250. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1988.02150030015001

Sir.—The views of Dr Leiken1 on children's hospital ethics committees make a significant contribution to the large and growing literature on ethics committees. Our ethics committee has shared many of the same issues and growing pains; however, we are seriously concerned about the opinions expressed in response to these difficult and complicated issues:

  1. We take issue with the notion that by virtue of their training and experience, physicians are more competent in making moral decisions than patients, families, or other members of the lay community. While pediatricians have special knowledge and responsibilities in dealing with children, we believe their duties are concentrated on promoting patient health and have less to do with promoting the general "social and personal good." Medical training is invaluable in medical ethics consultations, as it clarifies the medical facts and values in individual cases. However, it should not be accepted without proof that