Estimating Medical Risks: Physician vs Parents:Who Can Do the Better Job?
Society takes a responsibility for the care and life of children. This is in addition to the responsibility that parents naturally hold for their children. If society finds that particular parents fail to accept that responsibility, then in the United States, as an example, individual states will take on the management and decision-making for these children.
Parental surrogates for their children actually have considerable latitude in the care, education and development of their children. They also can and do make many medical decisions toward their health. The question arises in various specific cases brought to light by the news media whether parental medical decisions are really in the best interest of their children or whether the state is overreaching its authority and denying parental rights. An Idaho case in the news, follows:
“The parents of an infant who was given a spinal tap against their wishes hope to change the way medicine is practiced in Idaho.
U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill recently ruled that the state violated Corissa and Eric Mueller's civil rights when a Boise police officer took custody of their 5-week-old daughter so a doctor could give her a spinal tap to check for signs of meningitis. But Winmill left several issues for a jury to decide, including whether the system to determine imminent danger in medical cases is flawed.”
Read the entire AP description of the case and then return with your comments.
One issue is whether there are some subtleties in medical diagnosis and treatment that are obtained by physicians only through education and experience and which only trained physicians can evaluate one risk against another. Of course, the physicians should then describe their estimation of the risks to the parents. Then the parents can evaluate and decide what is best for their child. Should the parents such as in the Idaho case, who do not have the medical education and experience estimate the medical risks on their own and then make a decision based on what they consider the risk probability? ..Maurice.