Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Ethics paramount when dealing with children, says doctor

A doctor says that when it comes to doctors treating children, ethics always come first.

Dr. Zarshis Avari. Reproduced with
"The medicine is different, the ethics are different, the approach is different and so is the history," says Dr. Zarshis Avari

"We have to rely on what the parents and other relatives tell us," he adds.

"Also the some of the organ systems of a newborn child are different to an adult's," he explains. "For example the bones of an adult are fused at the tips, whereas they are not in very young kids.

This makes it difficult for a doctor not experienced in paediatric x-rays to figure out whether the child has a fracture"


The ethical conundrum, he says, with children, is that they cannot make decisions over treatment on their own, and those decisions have to be made for them by their parents or guardians.

Related article: Proper patient histories mean optimum care

"With newborn children there is also the issue of genetic diseases, some of which are very serious and have to be dealt with straight away to maximise the quality of life of the child," he explains. "A child cannot give consent and hence it is up to the parents.

"Sadly, sometimes the parents do not have the baby's best interests at heart."

"Also there are ethical issues surrounding a 10-year-old girl who visits you asking for contraceptive pills," he adds. "Do you tell the parents or not? Do you still maintain privacy of the patient? In most cases, yes."

Related article: No room for emotions in medicine

Avari, who is currently doing his MBBS at the University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia, adds that doctors also have to sometimes deal with patients who've been suffering from physical and emotional abuse.

"Another ethical conundrum that is not limited to kids but is seen in kids quite often is abuse, be it sexual, physical or emotional. It is the prerogative of the doctor to report any suspected abuse to the authorities."

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