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Pediatrics. 2011 Nov;128 Suppl 4:S206-12. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-2720K.

Concluding comments: maximizing good patient care and minimizing potential liability when considering complementary and alternative medicine.

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  • 1Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract

Our goal for this supplemental issue of Pediatrics was to consider what practitioners, parents, patients, institutions, and policy-makers need to take into account to make good decisions about using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to treat children and to develop guidelines for appropriate use. We began by explaining underlying concepts and principles in ethical, legal, and clinical reasoning and then used case scenarios to explore how they apply and identify gaps that remain in practice and policy. In this concluding article, we review our major findings, summarize our recommendations, and suggest further research. We focus on several key areas: practitioner and patient/parent relationships; decision-making; dispute resolution; standards of practice; hospital/health facility policies; patient safety; education; and research. Ethical principles, standards, and rules applicable when making decisions about conventional care for children apply to decision-making about CAM as well. The same is true of legal reasoning. Although CAM use has seldom led to litigation, general legal principles relied on in cases involving conventional medical care provide the starting point for analysis. Similarly, with respect to clinical decision-making, clinicians are guided by clinical judgment and the best interests of their patient. Whether a therapy is CAM or conventional, clinicians must weigh the relative risks and benefits of therapeutic options and take into account their patient's values, beliefs, and preferences. Consequently, many of our observations apply to conventional and CAM care and to both adult and pediatric patients.

PMID:
22045865
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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