Authored by: Ellen Wright Clayton

Routledge Handbook of Medical Law and Ethics

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415628181
eBook ISBN: 9780203796184
Adobe ISBN: 9781134448654


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Providing medical care for children has several distinguishing features. The first is that most children lack the capacity to make healthcare decisions for themselves. This means that others, typically parents in consultation with the child’s healthcare provider, must decide. At the same time, children usually develop greater capacities for decision-making as they mature and so can play a greater role in deciding about their healthcare as they get older. Another feature is that the government, exercising its power of parens patriae, intervenes more frequently to protect the interests of children than it does to protect those of adults. The result is a set of dynamic interactions, among parents, clinicians, the government, and the child, which is unique to pediatrics.

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